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S.A.N.S Episode 79: I Believe

The Prayer Chain who is the creator of today’s featured song isn’t a list of people to pray for. Rather, the Prayer Chain arrived on the alternative Christian rock scene in the early 1990’s. During my final semester of college, Whirlpool EP debuted. While the Prayer Chain’s initial album was unusual with the same six songs on either side of my cassette disk, the quality of each song was impressive.

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.

The lyrics of I Believe remind me of Rich Mullins’ song based upon the Apostle’s Creed. However, the sound of I Believe is something that you would hear on a secular rock radio station. As a former Catholic, I appreciate the simplicity of the lyrics that narrow in on what Christians believe about the Bible. While Resurrection Sunday has passed, may I Believe help you celebrate Jesus all year long.

by Jay Mankus

The Roman Rumor

Fake News isn’t something that former President Donald Trump invented. Rather, there have always been rumors that have evolved over time like children playing the telephone game. Each listener passes on this information with a new twist that deviates from the original message. The plot to cover up Jesus’ resurrection began with a Roman rumor that continues today by revisionist historians.

While they were on their way, behold, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had occurred. 12 And when they [the chief priests] had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers, Matthew 28:11-12.

The apostle Paul writes about a time when people will reach a point where they will believe what their itching ears want to hear, 1 Timothy 4:1-2. This passage reminds me of a group of teenage girls sitting at lunch, gossiping about the latest rumor in school. Unfortunately, gossip can become like a drug to some, getting cared away by words like “did you hear about what so and so did?”

And said, Tell people, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears of it, we will appease him and make you safe and free from trouble and care. 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this story has been current among the Jews to the present day, Matthew 28:13-15.

While many Christians around world will gather together to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection this Easter Sunday, the Roman rumor spread 2,000 years ago is still passed on today. As a former Bible teacher, I was forced to address this lie with facts and biblical truths. Perhaps the same demons and deceiving spirits that Paul wrote about still exist today. Whatever the reason for rumors, may resurrection Sunday inspire you to confront the father of lies with the light of truth found in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

When Gusts of Doubt Uproot Your Faith

Every Easter pastors, priests, and teachers read passages in the Bible of disciples abandoning Jesus in His greatest time of need. When asked to pray late at night, they fell asleep. After being confronted about his relationship, Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. As the winds of doubt began to blow on that original Good Friday, the only disciple not uprooted by the pressure to conform was John who took care of Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:6-8.

According to first centurion historians, even Jesus’ earthly brother, James, did not believe until Resurrection Sunday. Perhaps, the passage above is a personal confession, disappointed by his own lack of faith. Instead using his God given ears to hear and eyes to see, gusts of doubt blinded James from Jesus’ true identity. Nearly 2000 years later, the gusts of doubt continue to blow. Some of these storms are hidden by gray clouds, appearing without a moments notice. When the sky clears, a trail of wounded souls and debris remain.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a 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 21:21-22.

The apostle Paul compares faith to a deeply rooted tree, Colossians 2:7, nourished and built up by Christ. Unfortunately, winds of doubt often separate believers from their source of light and life. After cursing an unproductive fig tree, the disciples were shocked by Jesus’ miraculous powers. Jesus uses this teachable moment to reveal how doubt impacts his followers. Therefore, the next time you feel the gusts of doubt begin to blow, clear your mind before prayer is exercised to secure a firm defense.

by Jay Mankus

Divine Visitations

According to a 2020 survey, 77 percent of Americans believe in the concept of a guardian angel. Meanwhile, a number of celebrities have recently opened up about their own divine visitation. Jurassic Park star Chris Pratt told Esquire Magazine about a man from Hawaii who brought him a message from God while he was homeless. Denzel Washington saw an angel as child and met a woman a few days later who shared a prophecy about his future fame. Samantha Fey goes into further details about these accounts in an article entitled True Stories of Heavenly Encounters with Angels.

And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. 15 And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. 16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him, Luke 24:13-16.

When a first century doctor writes about another divine visitation, it’s worth examining his story. According to Luke, 2 of Jesus’ disciples had planned a trip to the village of Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday. This 7 mile walk gave those traveling ample time to talk. Apparently, the resurrected Jesus blended into the crowd, asking a series of questions. Based upon the words of Luke, Jesus is curious about what these men remembered. The other members of this group can’t believe these are being asked. Nonetheless, Jesus’ personality goes unrecognized for the entire day until they broke bread together. As soon of their eyes were opened, Jesus vanished, likely into the setting sun.

Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. 29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly), Luke 24:28-31.

Whether you’re talking about biblical events or modern day encounters, why does this happen? Why is it necessary for God to send a messenger to human beings? Perhaps a busy schedule has distracted individuals from what they were meant to do? Maybe Christians have lost their way, lost their confidence or broken dreams have caused people like me to stop and pick up the pieces? These brief visits serve as a spark to reignite your joy for life. While some may provide promises that never come to fruition, divine visitations are necessary to help the lost get found, the broken healed and the wayward back on track. May this blog give you the boost that you need to carry on with the rest of your life in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

Why is Friday so Good?

The origin of the term Good Friday is not clear if you check a couple of search engines. The “good” derives from German Gottes Freitag or Gute Freitag. While some believe this refers to God’s Friday, others disagree. Anglo Saxons coined the phrase “Long Friday,” as the Bible suggests Jesus stayed up all night without sleeping prior to his crucifixion.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn,” Zechariah 12:10.

In all my years as a Christian, I have only attended one Good Friday service as a senior in college. The service was based upon the passage above, a somber message exclaiming that our spiritual leader is dead. Pastor Paul commented that “I guess we can still get together from time to time, but our Savior is gone.” There are a few verses that suggest the remaining disciples went into hiding, afraid that they too may be arrested and crucified. Thus, Good Friday seems like an oxymoron as all spiritual hope died with Jesus.

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever), 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

To comprehend the meaning of Good Friday, you have to scan Old Testament prophecies beginning in Genesis 3:15. As a famous pastor once stated, “Jesus died on Friday, but Sunday is a coming.” While the joy for life was sucked out of Jesus’ followers during a 48 hour period, a resurrection ignited a movement which has survived for nearly 2000 years. Thus, this Friday is deemed good as Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. Easter Sunday is great as death was swallowed up in victory the moment Jesus rose from the grave. That is why this day is known as Good Friday.

by Jay Mankus

Memory Loss

There are 10 common symptoms of memory loss.  Whether it’s confabulation, confusion, forgetting names, getting lost, irritability, language difficulties, depression, struggling with day to day affairs, following directions or neurological issues, any of these are signs of old age.  Anyone who exhibits these traits are often diagnosed with dementia or in severe cases, Alzheimer’s disease.  As medical and science advancements enable human beings to extend life expectancy, memory loss will likely affect you at some point in the future.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing, James 1:23-25.

In the first century, some of the disciples developed memory loss between Maundy Thursday and Resurrection Sunday.  Despite being warned on several occasions, eluding to this event in the future, Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion a day later led to a spiritual meltdown.  One of Jesus’ vocalist followers, Peter, denied knowing Jesus three times in public within 24 hours.  Others went into in hiding, afraid they too many be arrested or sentenced to death like their leader.  After 3 years together, a few days of trials resulted in spiritual memory loss.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:13-14.

The latest democratic talking point is accusing President Donald Trump of memory loss day after day, claiming to be signs of dementia.  Unfortunately, these accusers are suffering from the same thing, unable to come to grips with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election loss.  Instead of wasting their breaths on endless excuses, it’s time to follow the advice of the apostle Paul in the passage above.  Sure, memory loss is a reality in most individuals, especially when it comes to names of people you just met.  Nonetheless, worrying about the past is a lost cause.  Rather, press on toward the future, focusing on that which God has called you to do.  Those who heed this call will begin to feel much better while you invest your time on heavenly causes.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Point of the Cross

In the Old Testament, initial commandments, laws and principles were passed down through word of mouth from one generation to the next.  Until Moses arrived upon the scene, there was no written word of God.  As one of the forefathers of Israel, God spoke directly to Moses, usually in the mountains on either Mount Horeb and or Sinai.  One of the messages delivered to Moses is that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the early first century, Jesus built an earthly ministry using disciples.  Prior to his death of the cross, Jesus revealed the purpose for his human sacrifice.  Befuddled by Jesus words, many of his followers thought he would become an earthly king.  Thus, it wasn’t until resurrection Sunday when the disciples began to connect the dots.  The apostle Paul writes several of his epistles about the point of the cross.  Jesus who had no sin became sin for us so that in Christ, we might become the righteous of God.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.

An entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to Jesus’ relationship to the cross.   According to 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus conquered sin and death with his resurrection.  In a letter to the church at Colosse, Paul talks about how Christians are buried with Christ in their baptism and raised with Him through the resurrection.  So what is the point of the cross?   Life begins at the cross, Matthew 16:24-26, as you deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus as a servant and vessel of love.

by Jay Mankus

The Proclamation to Imprisoned Spirits

A modern use for the term proclamation is a broadcast, manifesto or public notice.  Depending upon the messenger of a proclamation, commercials, infomercials or public service announcements may be used to get the word out to the masses.  However, for those without televisions or access to the internet, its vital for someone to go door to door if a message is life changing.

After being made alive, Jesus went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits, 1 Peter 3:19.

Following Jesus’ resurrection, one of his disciples recounts an important mission not mentioned by other writers of the Bible.  While no specific names are mentioned, Jesus visits individuals who were held captive by imprisoned souls.  Although the gospels recall 500 eyewitnesses who encountered Jesus after resurrection Sunday and before his ascension, its unclear whether Jesus visits men or women.  Thus, I’m assuming Jesus spent time with those addicted to certain types of sin.

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

The purpose of these house calls is made known by an earthly doctor unable to heal certain individuals.  Thus, Jesus provided a spiritual cure to save imprisoned souls.  With the scars stills visible in Jesus hands and feet, those doubting God’s power were likely shown and proclaimed, “by these wounds, you have been healed.”  This is the proclamation to imprisoned spirit, still available for you and me today.

by Jay Mankus

A Shadow of Good Things to Come

In Hollywood, hype is a popular form of promotion.  Thus, when producers believe their project is going to be a hit, money is invested in commercials to wet the pallet of consumers.  Sometimes this is an effective tool, but its not a blue print for success.  When a film, product or show does live up the the expectations based upon the hype, disappointment follows.  This is not the case for those who witnessed Resurrection Sunday.

The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship, Hebrews 10:1.

For the Jews, this day was like a catch 22.  The tradition of an earthly temple and priest offering sacrifices for sin was thrown out the window and flushed down the toilet.  Thus, Jesus threatened to remove those in power from their lofty positions.  On the other hand, the social outcasts, those forced to move outside of the city gates because of being labeled as unclean were provided an open door, direct access to the king of kings and Lord of lords.

For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit., Ephesians 2:18.

Easter Sunday is the culmination of years of prophecy fulfilled.  Thus, the promises of the Bible are no longer just a shadow, they are reality.  According to the apostle Paul, one of these good things is a clear connection to God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Although, temptation and the power of sin still exist, grace, forgiveness and mercy is available day after day.  Therefore, as you experience another Easter, may the good things of Christ keep bringing you back week after week.

by Jay Mankus

The Good Things of Christ

There are four books of the Bible known as the gospels according to Jesus Christ.  Matthew, Mark, Luke and John give an account of the life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus.  However, gospel originates from the Old English term godspel.  This word has two meanings, referring to good tidings or good news.  Thus, inside these four New Testament books contain the good things of Christ.

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation, Hebrews 9:11.

According to Hebrews, Jesus came down to earth to be a physical great high priest.  Within the four gospels you will find verses that highlight this great news.  The inspiration behind this selfish act was love.  Trying to restore that which was lost, Jesus resists temptation to become the perfect lamb of God.  Following the disappointment of Jesus’ death on the cross, Sunday’s resurrection rejuvenated those who had lost hope.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, John 3:16-17.

Today, some members of the media are trying to rewrite history, suggesting the resurrection was a hoax.  Using the conspiracy theory first conceived in Matthew 28:12-15, film makers have created moderns movies to deceive Christians.  Yet, like anything else in life, you have to surround yourself with positive people, fleeing from negative influences.  As another Resurrection Sunday approaches, may the good things about Christ lift you up and draw you closer to a risen Savior during this season of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

 

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