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Walk Forrest… Walk On

When I first became a high school Bible teacher at Red Lion Christian Academy, I was surprised by how much television that my students watched outside of school. Apparently, most Christian families at this school had premium cable with several channels devoted to movies. One of the most quoted movies in my class was Forrest Gump. As a junior high cross-country coach, ” run Forrest, run” was a daily occurrence at practice while running on campus.

When Enoch was 65 years old, Methuselah was born. 22 Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters, Genesis 5:21-22.

While the apostle Paul does compare faith to running in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, you have to learn how to walk before running is possible. As bullies began to throw rocks at Forrest, Jenny, his only friend, introduced the world to this classic line, “RUN Forrest, RUN.” From a spiritual perspective, the Book of Psalm starts with a powerful analogy which illustrates who you walk with dictates the person you ultimately become in life.

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, I am the Almighty God; walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete), Genesis 17:1.

There are only two human beings who never experienced death according to the Bible. The first was Enoch and second, the prophet Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11. The one trait these two men shared was a willingness to habitually walk with God. If Forrest Gump was re-written from a Christian perspective, the words Jenny uttered would change from Run, Forrrest Run to Walk Forrest, Walk on with the Lord.

by Jay Mankus


The Crossover Connection Week 2: A Spiritual Salt n Pepa

At the time I started attending dances in high school, Salt n Pepa’s song Push It was first released. As the intro to this song started playing, everyone flooded the dance floor, even those just there for the slow dances. I searched Christian music for 30 years trying to find a sound similar to Salt n Pepa’s genre. While you’ll never find an identical match as you crossover from secular music to Christian, I believe Group 1 Crew is the spiritual Salt n Pepa to fill this void.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

Although the attached best of tracks doesn’t include songs like Breakdown and Let it Roll, the variety of ballads, hip hop and rap will keep your fingers snapping to the beat. When I taught high school Bible at Red Lion Christian Academy, a couple of students pointed me in the right direction to modernize my music collection. Their insight led me to Group 1 Crew who has become one of my go to’s when I need a spiritual pick me up. I pray that the lyrics of Group 1 Crew’s songs will uplift your heart and soul this week.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 313: A Christmas Campfire Medley

One of my favorite Christmas memories of Delaware was at the height of Red Lion Christian Academy. At this time there were 975 students K-12 and I served as a High School Bible teacher and elder of Red Lion Evangelical Free Church. We had snow before Christmas that year, but I was anticipating a large gathering of friends for New Year’s Eve. I shoveled a path to my firepit and covered the wood for an amazing campfire on a cold winter night.

 But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear ([e]unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.

While families across that United States stress out about buying Christmas presents and decking out their house for all the neighbors to see, family is what makes Christmas special. Watching the joy on the faces of my children as they open their stockings and presents. Although it’s impossible to please everyone in your family, may the sound of Saddleback’s Worship Teams Christmas Campfire Medley get you in the mood to celebrate Christ this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

Who I Am… Not What I Do

I first became introduced to Casting Crowns by a group started by teenagers at Red Lion Christian Academy. Faith on Fire was formed under the leadership of Jim Walls and evolved into a ministry team. One of the members was Kaylyn Warren, one of my students that I taught over my ten-year teaching career. Despite losing her battle to cancer at age 18, Kaylyn was a gifted singer who regularly led worship at chapel services. The words of one song often sung reminds me of Who I Am in Christ, not what I do.

 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me, Galatians 2:20.

At any social gathering that you attend, one of the first topics men discuss is “what do you do” and “where did you go to school?” If you’re in between jobs or not proud of your current position, you may give a brief answer before changing the subject to something more comfortable. While I have been blessed to hold several great positions like Store Manager of Michael Jordan Golf at O’Hare International Airport and Regional Staff Writer for Travel Golf Media, this is not who I am today.

[Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous,] Galatians 2:21.

I’m a humble servant of Jesus. I have been crucified with Christ like the apostle Paul explains in Colossians 3:1-4. I walk by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7. I have been saved by God’s grace, Ephesians 2:8-10. Who I will become is yet to be determined, but Philippians 1:6 claims that God is preparing me so that I can accomplish God’s will for my life. While I still have aspirations to become a full-time screen writer and complete the television series that I have in my head and on my heart, James 4:13-15 reminds me that I need to live life one day at a time. Do your best and let God take care of the rest.

by Jay Mankus

The Broken Road

Rather than get depressed by watching old footage of the events of September 11th, 2001, I decided to listen to Christian music Sunday morning. The album in my car CD player just happened to be Geoff Moore and the Distance. Before exiting my vehicle, the song God Bless the Broken Road began. The lyrics helped me realized If it wasn’t for 9/11, I would have never become a High School Bible Teacher.

Thus says the Lord: Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk in it! 17 Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hear and obey the sound of the trumpet! But they said, We will not listen or obey, Jeremiah 6:16-17.

Prior to September 11th, I was working as an Independent Contractor and serving as a Staff Writer for Travel Golf Media. Due to the restrictions on air travel following this terrorist attack, my writer position was the first broken road to lead me to consider teaching. When my bank contracts were reduced at the end of 2001, this was the second broken road, leading me to interview for a open position in 2002.

Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. 14 But the gate is narrow (contracted [k]by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it, Matthew 7:13-14.

Whenever you endure hardships like death or tragedy, God uses these events to get your attention. After working nights for 2 years, I took the leap of faith when I received a call from Red Lion Christian Academy out of the blue asking, “can you start at the beginning of the second semester?” While the images of September 11th, 2002, are heard to forger, God uses broken roads to lead you toward God’s will for your life. I spent 10 wonderful years as a golf coach and teacher all because of a broken road.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 148: This Fragile Breath

When I first started teaching Bible to high school students at Red Lion Christian Academy, Todd Agnew released today’s featured song. Whenever This Fragile Breath came on our local Christian radio station, I couldn’t get enough of this song which combines a great beat with biblical lyrics. As this song nears the end, I’m always touched by the extended chorus of “Speak to me; Speak to me please.”

And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11.

The context of the passage above occurs as Elijah is battling depression. After receiving a death threat from Queen Jezebel, Elijah stops eating and begins to mope. Whenever I go through difficult periods in life, I’m oblivious to what God is trying to teach me. Sometimes it takes experiencing a natural disaster to open our ears to hearing God’s still small voice. May listening to this classic song draw you closer to God.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 107: Someone Like You

Twelve Stones is one of the first groups recommended to me by a student in one of my first senior high classes at Red Lion Christian Academy. Twelve Stones combines a classical rock sound with an occasional heavy metal beat. The Behind the Scars album contains a couple of ballads that remind me of secular bands that I listened to in high school.

From now on let no person trouble me [by [l]making it necessary for me to vindicate my apostolic authority and the divine truth of my Gospel], for I bear on my body the [brand] marks of the Lord Jesus [the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions—these testify to His ownership of me]! – Galatians 6:17

Someone Like You starts off slow, but transitions into a head bobbing beat. I wouldn’t call this a ballad, but it’s more of a hybrid with a chorus that speaks of finding someone who doesn’t disappoint. From a human standpoint, every day is filled with disappointment as sooner or later someone or something will let you down. This is what makes God special; a supernatural being who saves you from yourself.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 69: No One Like You

I was fortunate to see the David Crowder Band in concert twice before taking time off to lead worship at his home church. While David decided to change his band to simply Crowder, this group has a special gift for drawing audiences closer to the Lord. While teaching at Red Lion, I served on part of the security team for both of Crowder’s concerts in Delaware.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me. In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you, John 14:1-2.

When I first started teaching high school Bible, No One Like You was part of the regular rotation during our school chapel services. While Red Lion’s worship team did a good job, there is nothing like hearing Crowder play No One Like You live. David’s energy, joy, and passion lifted up the concert audience up, giving those in attendance a glimpse of heaven. May you enjoy this classic song.

by Jay Mankus

Feeling Invisible to the Outside World

Ten years ago, I was forced to reinvent myself after losing my teaching position at Red Lion Christian Academy in the middle of the school year. After a couple of stints on unemployment, I landed back on my feet at Amazon. This June will mark the beginning of my 10th year at this company. Yet, my only option for a promotion was switching to the graveyard shift. While the benefits and pay have been a blessing to my family, it has come at a cost. Working nights for the past 8 years has made me invisible to the outside world.

Therefore, my dear ones, as you have always obeyed [my suggestions], so now, not only [with the enthusiasm you would show] in my presence but much more because I am absent, work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) your own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, [i]with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). 13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while [j]effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and [k]delight, Philippians 2:12-13.

There are many things in life that don’t show or reveal dividends right away. While I have always dabbled in creative writing, writing screen plays has coincided with the last decade. Despite countless hours crafting, planning and typing, all I have is 3 completed manuscripts. There is no book deal, notoriety or agents knocking down my door to produce one of my films. My efforts are invisible to Hollywood. Sure, I have ideas for a 10-episode sit-com and a drama based upon a grown-up Joan of Arcadia, but for now I feel invisible to the outside world.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[l]against God] and [m]questioning and doubting [among yourselves], 15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, 16 Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:14-16.

The passage above provides advice for anyone who feels invisible. Whenever you set out to cultivate and fulfill a goal, this process can be exhausting. As I listen to weekly screenwriting podcasts to keep my dream alive, the Bible contains instructions for the here and now. Complaining and grumbling about a lack of success doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, the apostle Paul urges believers to rise above your circumstances in life. Hold out hope by presenting yourself like a bright star piercing the darkness of the unknown. Fan into the flame the gifts and talents that God has given you to see what happens. Do your best and let God do the rest until your hard work is rewarded.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 57: The Lost Get Found

I was first introduced to Britt Nicole by one of my former students at Red Lion Christian Academy. Since I often incorporated music into my lesson plans, Rachel realized that my Christian music was out of date. She gave me a couple of CD’s with single songs from multiple artists. After listening to the song Glow, I became a fan of Britt and have bought three different albums and counting.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

There are a couple of different versions of today’s featured song The Lost Get Found. While I purchased both versions, the remix combines solid biblical lyrics with an upbeat dance/hip hop sound. When I listen to the chorus of the Lost Get Found, I am reminded of a conversation that took place nearly 2000 years ago. After inviting Jesus into his home, Zacchaeus vows to transform his life as a perfect example of how the lost get found by God.

by Jay Mankus

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