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S.A.N.S. Episode 293: I Delight

Despite my passion for Christian rock music, I find myself more and more attractive by spontaneous worship mixes. While my favorite is a 19-minute montage of three songs by Kari Jobe, there are several other artists who have recently gotten my attention. David and Nicole Binion are a couple who I stumbled upon with the attached song I Delight. Yet, this couple has several others moving worship songs on You Tube as well.

But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace, Psalm 37:11.

As a recovering perfectionist, allowing myself to find something to delight in is difficult. Rather than take time to reflect upon what the Lord has allowed me to accomplish, I often move on to my next goal and project. After listening to I Delight, I feel prompted to slow down and begin to appreciate the little things in life. As you listen to the lyrics of David and Nicole’ song, may you be moved to delight in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Living by Design… Not by Default

I changed my major three times before my junior year of college.  Initially, I went into Business Administration, then Civil Engineering before deciding upon Recreation and Parks Administration.  This indecision forced me to take the five year plan, spending one semester doing an internship in Golf Course Design and Maintenance.  With most of my friends in Cleveland back at school, I volunteered at a local church 2 days a week as an informal youth ministry internship.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse, Romans 1:20.

After graduating in May of 1992, the default position was to accept an apprenticeship in Boston, Massachusetts.  The company performing the redesign in Cleveland wanted me to become familiar with running all of the high tech equipment before guaranteeing a salary.  Unsure of where I would live and how I would I survive without getting paid for six months, I declined this offer.  Instead, I trusted the Holy Spirit to live by God’s design.  This choice led to a position as the Work Camp Coordinator for Inner city Wilmington, Delaware.  While the pay was puny, the experience was life changing.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers, Romans 8:28-29.

Looking back over the past 25 years, I wish I could say that I have followed God’s will throughout my life.  Unfortunately, the older you become, life gets more complicated.  Living by design requires sacrifices that I have been unwilling to submit to and take.  Thus, I find myself today living by default, living pay check to pay check without much purpose or reason.  Although I can’t go back and change the decisions that I have made in the past, I can alter my current course.  Therefore, I urge anyone struggling to find meaning in life to starting living by God’s design, Romans 12:1-2.  Reflect, pray and ask God for vision so that you can begin to seize each day through a life devoted to living by God’s design.

by Jay Mankus

Under Further Review

Beginning in 1986, the National Football League adopted a limited instant replay review for close calls made by officials during the course of a game.  The current policy was made permanent in 1999, giving coaches two challenges per game.  If both challenges are won, a third challenge is awarded to this team.  Initially, referees stared into a camera with something like a voting booth curtain for privacy.  Today, officials are given tablets to speed up this process.  Once a determination is reached, the head official begins with the phrase “upon further review.”

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me, Philippians 3:12.

This expression can also be applied to evaluating your life.  The end of one year and beginning of new one serves as a great time to take the time to reflect.  You may even ask yourself some of the following questions.  Did I attain any of the dreams, goals or objectives I laid out?  How did the circumstances of the year influence me for the better or worse?  Am I closer to fulfilling my aspirations in life or do I need to change course quickly so that hope does not drown?  While this may not help you initially, it’s a good starting point to see what needs to change in 2018.

For nothing will be impossible with God, Luke 1:37.

At first glance, 2017 was a painful year, saying good bye to my cousin Billy and father in law Jim.  These events led my wife and I to sit down to create a will just in case death comes knocking.  Another setback was receiving a rejection letter from Hollywood for my screen play Express Yourself.  This news crushed my spirits initially, but has led me to begin working on Dragged Behind the Devil’s Door in 2018, a script that was rejected by Hollywood in 2016 but did receive favorable comments by judges.  Perhaps, I am on a wild goose chase, wasting countless hours reflecting, studying and writing.  Yet, as a former professional athlete, I’m swinging for the fences hoping that I will eventually connect.  Right now my batting average is 000, but upon further review I serve a God who makes the impossible possible.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ill Gotten Gain

For years I’ve heard preachers and pundits warn Christians against buying lottery tickets, gambling or participating in activities that offer big payouts.  I’ve gone back and forth pondering biblical principles and comparing them with logic.  One of the opposing views I have adopted is comparing the lottery to a contest, if you don’t enter you won’t have the chance to win.  However, after reading a verse from Solomon, I may have changed my mind.

Ill-gotten treasures have no lasting value, but righteousness delivers from death, Proverbs 10:2.

The verse above appears to apply to contests, lotteries or payouts where little or no work is involved.  I would not include investing in this category as this involves researching trends and studying the market that takes years to fully grasp and understand.  If you examine the term ill-gotten, Solomon is referring to methods that involve cheating, dirty or shady.  Then again, this may exclude the lottery from this argument.  Nonetheless, I get the sense that God wants people to work for you make, not handed money you don’t deserve.

Such are the paths of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the life of those who get it, Proverbs 1:19.

Sometimes before you reach a conclusion you have to let new concepts settle.  Instead of making a knee jerk reaction, its probably better to take some time to reflect upon what you really believe.  One of Israel’s founding fathers, Joshua refers to a cow chewing its cud in Joshua 1:8, emphasizing the importance of meditating upon biblical teachings.  Therefore, I won’t make a definitive statement on what you should or should not do.  Rather, I want everyone who reads this to contemplate what it means to receive ill-gotten gain.

by Jay Mankus

The Rhymes and Reasons in Life

Every story includes a beginning, middle and end.  For the impatient, wanting to fast forward to know the conclusion, important details are skipped.  Subsequently, chapters and pages don’t make sense, void of any rhyme or reasons.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere, James 3:17.

The same concept applies to life.  Sure, every human being starts with conception, but somewhere between childhood and adolescence, life gets complicated.  As an adult, the complexities increase, causing many to be confused by the rhymes and reasons in life.  Thus, when you stop to reflect about where you are, how you got there and what do next, clarity is often hard to find.

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, Colossians 1:9.

If you are like me, you have experienced periods of uncertainty in life.  When you find yourself in these moments of doubt, prayer is one of the best solutions.  As you pray your way through life to make sense of rhymes and reasons, God promises to give individuals knowledge and insight.  Therefore, don’t quit before God finishes the story He has written.  In the Lord’s time, rhymes and reasons will be unveiled as you draw near to God.

by Jay Mankus

The Elusive Search for Authority

Cowboys and Indians are symbols of western exploration in America.  In 1997, Paula Cole asks the question in her song, “Where have all the Cowboys gone?”  Although the sing refers to a woman looking for a story book ending, to live happily ever after, cowboys are symbolic of hard work, self-reliance and in a sense, law and order maintained by sheriffs who rode on horse back.  Like the famous quote from Curly in the 1991 film City Slickers, “cowboys are a dying breed.”

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits, Mark 6:7.

The same can be said about authority today.  Between the hip hop and rap culture disrespecting police officers with their lyrics, political correctness redefining ethics and the assault on the authenticity of the Bible, authority is disappearing.  By smearing individuals with integrity as well as failing to hold others accountable to high standards, the ability to confront, rebuke and correct flawed worldviews is diminishing.  All that remains is a blue print laid out by Jesus to his disciples.

Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give, Matthew 10:8.

Jesus sent out 12 ordinary men with one extraordinary message, “repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.”  Jesus wasn’t trying to be like an overbearing coach, parent or teacher trying to tell you everything that you are doing wrong.  Rather, Jesus wanted human beings to reflect upon their lives and allow the Holy Spirit to convict souls.  When sins are expressed in a public settings, others feel compelled to come clean.  This atmospheres lays a foundation for revival.  When the words of the Bible are used properly, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, God’s authority can be restored to on earth as it is in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Does My Help Come From?

The term apologetics in the context of theology (the science of God) is derived from expressing what you believe and why.  This process takes time to reflect, meditate and verbalize the rationale behind the beliefs you hold dear.  Thus, one of the areas a person may contemplate over the course of their life is this: where does my help come from?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? – Psalm 121:1

Those who claim to be rugged individuals, consisting of discipline, hard work and persistence, often give the credit of their success to how they were raised, trial and error and earning most of what they have received in life.  Meanwhile, victims are on the opposite side of the spectrum, learning to pass the blame for their failures on everyone or anything possible, creating an excuse for each loss, setback and unreached dream.  As for those somewhere in between, the divine, luck the family you are born into usually help to explain why help arrived or never came to the rescue.

My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; Psalm 121:2-3.

Looking back on my own personal experiences, there have been too many occasions in the past to write off as mere coincidences.  During my sophomore year of high school, I first sensed the hand of God leading me.  Although I have endured periods where I felt abandoned by God, help eventually was provided by angels, conversations, letters, unusual encounters and whispers from the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, as for me and my household, our help comes from the Lord!

by Jay Mankus

To Please or Not to Please: That is the Question

As I was driving home from work the other day, one thought popped into my head, “who am I trying to please?”  My laid back nature usually leads me toward keeping the peace, not wanting to rock the boat.  However, when aspects of my faith are attacked, why do I keep quiet, holding back how I really feel?

Perhaps, my lack of an answer is a symptom of a lukewarm spirit, Revelation 3:16.  A reflection of someone who has lost their passion, taking the Bible and church for granted.  Despite my current pathetic state, I still need to respond to one of life’s question: to please or not to please?

The apostle Paul had a similar issue with Jewish Christians in Galatia.  Regardless of how hard each tried, letting go of what each was taught growing up was difficult.  Thus, Paul brought this concern up in Galatians 1:10.  While pleasing mankind is easy; who are you living for?  If Jesus is your Lord, Romans 10:9-10, why aren’t your actions reflecting this decision?

Maybe its just me, but I can’t continue to remain silent as the world around me is failing to pieces, bound for hell.  If you agree with this statement, join me in the spirit of Matthew 18:19-20.  With the power of numbers on our side, may the power of the Holy Spirit lift you and I up to please the Lord, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Have Faith for 2015?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but its important to look ahead as Christmas Day draws near.  For example, if you pray without faith, will God honor your requests?  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, James 1″6-7.  In the same way, if you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform your situation, don’t expect great things in 2015.

One of my favorite scenes from a movie occurs in Facing the Giants.  As a football coach questions his reason for remaining at Shiloh High, he encounters a man sent from God.  Speaking in a parable like Jesus, this wise elder sheds light on the secret to success in life.  Whenever a farmer prepares his field annually for the next crop, each expects the Lord to provide rain.  However, if you wait too long before you sow seeds in faith, you can miss the harvest.

Therefore, looking ahead, developing a vision is vital for 2015.  Although no one but God knows what the future holds, what are you passionate about?  What motivates you to get up before the sun rises?  If you’re drawing a blank, don’t worry because you have another 2 weeks to reflect these questions.  As you reach out in prayer to discover an answer, may the Lord fill you with faith for 2015 and beyond.

by Jay Mankus

 

Imprints on Heaven

While listening to a sermon over the weekend, I was challenged to reflect on what if any impact I’ve had during my days on this planet.  Jesus and the apostle Paul, shared a similar message, urging their listeners to begin to store up treasures on earth, Matthew 6:19-21 and Colossians 3:1-4.  If heaven does exist and Jesus went ahead to prepare the way, John 14:2, then its time you and I begin the imprinting process.

Although minor in many ways, my first mark involved music.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I felt compelled  to inform people of God’s love.  Sorting through a vast collection of Christian music in college, I created a mix that I began to give to individuals, just as a high school friend did for me.   Trying to introduce people to contemporary artists, one particular creation entitled A Father”s Love struck a cord with several friends and strangers.  In the days of writing letters, words of encouragement appeared in the mail box, confirming that I was on the right track.

My greatest inscription occurred during a Lay Witness Mission, a fancy name for a retreat geared toward reviving souls for a  spiritually dead or dying congregation.  Beside being an active participant during youth group activities, my main responsibility was to share a brief testimony, what God was teaching me or doing in my life.  At a moment’s notice, I was suppose to be ready.  Well, I waited and waited and waited.  Finally, on Saturday night, I was told I would be talking to the entire congregation.  After praying with my roommate that night, the Lord took over so when the appointed time came, I opened my mouth and the Holy Spirit spoke.  Before finishing, I offered up a call for action, then played a song.  As I looked up, some were actually running to the altar, dedicating their lives to Jesus.

Since this day, I guess I can include my wife, kids and a decade as a Bible teacher.  However, in between the victories, there have been plenty of moments of failure, idleness and periods of self-indulgence.   When you taste defeat, the best pill to swallow is humility, an important practice to keep you on the narrow path to heaven, Matthew 7:13-15.  As the second coming of Jesus draws near, don’t forget to leave your imprints on earth while heaven awaits for those who call on the name of the Lord, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

 

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