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If you have ever lost something valuable in life, certain things seem to vanish. When I was a child, I asked my parents if I could hold the money for a local ice-cream shop at the beach. On the final night of our vacation, I was given the cash for everyone’s ice-cream. I remember grasping it tight, walking with my hands in my pocket. Yet, when I went to pull the money out of my pocket, it was gone. Despite desperately retracing my steps, the money vanished from sight, blown by the wind into the night.

And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him], Genesis 5:24.

One New Testament author speaks of Enoch, living seven generations from Adam, Jude 1:14. The author of Hebrews includes this same individual in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11:5-6. According to Moses, one day when Enoch was 365 days old, about 36.5 years old if you consider the Open Canopy Theory which slowed down the aging process from the sun, this man vanished from the face of the earth. There were no milk cartons back then, but if there were his picture would have been on the back of one.

And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. 10 He said, You have asked a hard thing. However, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you—but if not, it shall not be so. 11 As they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire parted the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces, 2 Kings 2:9-12.

Jeremiah is much more descriptive when a similar event occurs several hundreds of years later. After Elijah had finished grooming his apprentice Elisha, Jeremiah writes about an event out of a science fiction film. According to Jeremiah, a chariot of fire and horses appeared in the sky. This wasn’t Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, but a spiritual prophet escorted by the Lord into heaven. Enoch and Elijah are the only two individuals who simply vanished from earth, never to experience death. May these two accounts make you a believer in an Almighty God this Christmas season, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus


S.A.N.S. Episode 320: Drummer Boy / Oh Come All Ye Faithful

The Little Drummer Boy is one of those Christmas Classics which doesn’t get the attention it deserves. One of the Santa Claus cartoons has a scene when the Burgemeester bans Christmas in this one town. Every morning any Christmas decorations or gifts that are found are taken and burned int front of children. I believe one of the scenes has a boy whose snare drum is taken and destroyed. While Santa does come to save the day, in real life it’s Jesus who is the Savior.

So they went with haste and [[g]by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child, Luke 2:16-17.

One of the ways modern musicians put a new spin on a Christmas classic is by blending a worship song that leads into a specific Christmas carol. Such is the case for the worship montage by Hillsong during a live Christmas program in London. While I prefer the originals that stand alone, the attached You Tube provides a different perspective on the Little Drummer Boy. Although this version may not be for you, I hope Sing A New Song prepares your heart to celebrate Jesus this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

Pillars of Prayer

When I visit a tourist destination, rarely do I say, “look at that pillar!” This tall vertical structure of stone, wood, or metal, used as a support for a building often goes unnoticed. Yet, without these crucial supports, buildings will collapse, not able to stand the test of time. In ancient Greece, pillars were center pieces of famous landmarks that still stand today.

And as He saw one single leafy fig tree above the roadside, He went to it but He found nothing but leaves on it [seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves]. And He said to it, Never again shall fruit grow on you! And the fig tree withered up at once, Matthew 21:19.

During an early morning walk, Jesus introduced his disciples to pillars of prayer. When an unproductive fig tree did not offer any fruit for their hungry stomachs, Jesus cursed it, immediately withering in front of them. This miracle inspired disciples to ascertain about the power of prayer. The first pillar is faith. This must be accompanied by an unwavering reliance on God. The second pillar is belief. This is accomplished by removing any doubt from your mind, trusting in the God who created the mountains.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 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. And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:20-22.

From personal experience, my mind tends to get in the way of prayers from being answered. It’s one thing to believe in the power of prayer, but Christians shouldn’t treat God like Santa Claus using prayer as a wish list. Instead, faith and belief must go hand and hand, yielding to God’s will. Yet, this shouldn’t hold you back, knocking on God’s door over and over again like the persistent widow. Prayer can be complicated, especially when prayers go unanswered. Nonetheless, when individuals don’t limit what heaven can do, you’ll be surprised just like the disciples above.

by Jay Mankus

Baby Jesus or the Man in a Red Suit?

According to Washington Irving, the concept of Santa Claus emerged in the United States beginning in 1773.  In Washington’s 1809 book the History of New York, Americans borrowed from Sinterklaas, a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat.  Commercial stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, followed by separate sections for holiday advertisements in 1840.  In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model.  The tradition of blending a real life Santa Claus to attract Christmas shoppers began in 1918.

Now they were also bringing their babies to Him, so that He would touch and bless them, and when the disciples noticed it, they began reprimanding them, Luke 18:15.

For the unchurched, Santa Claus has slowly replaced Jesus as the reason for this season.  As atheists, liberals and progressives continue to be offended by nativity scenes set up in public squares, law suits, public pressure and political correctness is eliminating the traces of this sacred holiday.  As a generation of babies, toddlers and young children have sat upon the laps of adults dressed up as Santa Claus, the concept of a baby Jesus is fading away.  Meanwhile, when asked by men in a red suit, “what do you want for Christmas,” Santa Claus has been elevated by many unknowing children to a god like status.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.

Apparently, fairly tales and wise old tales was not just a modern phenomena.  According to the apostle Paul, first century leaders who opposed Christianity began to develop plans to mislead followers of Christ.  These schemes appear to have been successful in deceiving some believers who did not possess a strong spiritual foundation.  The context of the passage above refers to becoming rooted in Christ, relying on the Bible and prayer to serve as a spiritual guide through life.  Anyone who does not practice similar spiritual disciplines are vulnerable to believing in lies, John 8:44.  This dilemma has led me to ponder, who will today’s children believe: baby Jesus or the man in a red suit?

by Jay Mankus

Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

Finding Life This Christmas

Christmas, Santa Claus and presents excite a children with exceeding anticipation for one day each year, December 25th.  Meanwhile, preparations for this same day can be overwhelming for grandparents, family and individuals trying to work as much as possible to pay for all these expenses.  On a day meant for Joy to the World, many struggle to find meaning and purpose for life.

Whoever strays from the path of prudence comes to rest in the company of the dead, Proverbs 21:16.

In a mad dash to please selfish and spoiled children, the reason for this season gets lost.  Crowded malls, congested roads and stress can suck the life out of positive people.  Subsequently, its easy to stray off the path of prudence, turning a joyful soul into Ebenezer Scrooge in a matter of weeks.  Unless you can snap out of this, you might end up at the end of the road, reserved for the company of the dead.

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor, Proverbs 21:21.

According to Solomon, there is a way to find life this Christmas and throughout the year.  Similar to Jesus’ words in the sermon of the Mount, Matthew 6:33-34, this transformation begins with seeking God first and His righteousness.  One of the byproducts of this journey involves love as a formerly cold heart is revived by the Holy Spirit.  When individuals begin to seek the Spirit of Christmas 365 days a year, honor and prosperity follows.  Like Bill Murray in Scrooged, may you find life this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

The Real Mr. Heat and Freeze Miser

He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes, Psalm 147:16.

Prior to the theory of Global Warming, a motion animated television special provided its own belief.   Phyllis McGinley’s 1956 book inspired the Christmas Classic The Year Without a Santa Claus, airing in December of 1974.  While this animation put a unique twist on Christmas, the two characters which stole the spotlight were Mr. Heat and Mr. Freeze Miser.  After Mrs. Claus appeals to Mother Nature, the Miser’s mom, a compromise is struck to allow a warm weather climate to experience snow so that the Spirit of Christmas is saved.

He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? – Psalm 147:17

Today, weather has its own syndrome known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Thus, its no wonder Weber comes out with the a new commercial each Spring, enticing people to take advantage of warm weather by grilling.  In fact, many people are never satisfied complaining that its too hot, too cold or not good enough to complete their plans for the weekend.  In the end, Mother Nature get’s most of the credit in an ever increasing political correct world for nice days.  Meanwhile, the moment disaster strikes in the form of a flood, hurricane or tornado, God is usually the first to be blamed.

He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow, Psalm 147:18

According to the Psalmist, God has been in control of the weather since the beginning of Creation.  Although each season may not come when the calendar expects, the Lord will alter the Jet Streams like Mr. Heat Miser and Freeze Miser to warm up or cool down the earth in His time.  While scientists will continue to spend massive amounts of time and money to attempt to explain the weather, there is only One perfect weather man who seems to enjoy confusing the experts daily.

by Jay Mankus

More Than Just A Curse Word

As a resident of the greater Philadelphia area, I understand the passion of Philly fans.  Although the main stream media continues to accuse them of throwing snow balls at Santa Claus, most season ticket holders wear their emotions on their sleeves.  If you add alcohol to a bad call or break, thoughts become verbalized.  Thus, if you attend an Eagles game on a Sunday, God’s name may be used in a slightly different context than church.  Phrases such as “Jesus Christ, God dam it and Holy bleep” are reactions to a sporting event beyond their control.

Outside of the realm of sports, there is another topic of conversation.  If someone begins to experience a string of bad luck, loses in life or turmoil, God is usually the first to be blamed.  The Old Testament nature of God leads individuals to believe God is punishing them for something done in their past.  Yet, when the tide turns toward blessings, praise and rewards for hard work, there is a tendency for adults to take the credit.  Either forgetting or overshadowing God’s role, glory is often stolen by selfish souls.

Regardless of where you find yourself on this spectrum, the majority will agree that today’s language is merely a byproduct of a fallen generation.  Society has accepted the idea that words need to be spoken, even if people are hurt.  Twitter feeds this notion, giving disgruntled followers a platform to voice their opinion.  Nonetheless, God is more than a curse word or punch line for a comedian.  Rather, Hebrews 4:12-13 reveals that everything will be uncovered, brought to the light, as everyone will have to give an account of what they’ve done and the words they have spoken.

by Jay Mankus

Get Over It!

For 30 plus years, the national media has killed Philadelphia sports fans for booing and throwing snow balls at Santa Claus during an Eagle’s football game in the 1970’s.  With the eyes of the golfing world now on Merion Golf Club, just outside of center city, for this week’s 2013 U.S. Open, another story continues to drag on.  After a disappointing career up to this point, Sergio Garcia recently made an off colored remark toward Tiger Woods, trying to be funny at an news conference in Europe.  Like beating a dead horse, golf and sports analysts continue to bring this up over and over again, trying to stir up bad blood.  For now, can  everyone please move on and get over it?

In life, each individual has endured heartache, frustration and pain at least once.  Bitterness is often a natural response, left behind by someone or something from your past.  Although its true time does heal all things, scar tissue remains, brought to the surface by people, places or things.  If you fail to let go of these emotions, barriers will rise up out of the ground in the form of spiritual roots, Hebrews 12:16.  This obstacle will eat away at your soul, leaving behind division, friction and hatred toward others.  For your own good, I urge you to get over these events, Matthew 6:15.

At the conclusion of Scrooged starring Bill Murray, he confesses his sins to a live audience.  After evaluating his own life, Murray realizes that he has been a jerk, selfish and damaged by a poor relationship with his own father.  When you practice this kind of behavior, James 5:16, individuals can reclaim a sense of freedom.  Reaching this point is no easy task as thoughts of certain co-workers, neighbors or relatives may bring out the worst in you.  However, its time to bury the hatchet, to seek forgiveness or forgive anyone you haven’t been able to up to this point in life.  Whether its a former boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or relative, please for the love of God, get over it!

by Jay Mankus


As a new age approaches, a time is coming when children in America will not know God’s meaning of Christmas.  A little carol here, another Santa there and presents everywhere under a Christmas tree?  While Christians have taken this holiday for granted, the unchurched is drinking eggnog trying to comprehend the significance of this day.

Call it complacency, being out of touch or a lack of true ambassadors for Christ, something has gotten lost along the way.  The only Bible some people may open up is the example of Christ inside of believers.  Until this is displayed, the reason for this season will continue to be blurred by a double vision of the Word of God and what they see in followers of Jesus.

Is it just an illusion or a foregone conclusion that Santa Claus has become the Savior of Christmas?  Between the lines, there are no signs that the church can undo the lies of commercialism.  Drawing the masses to his side, with sleigh bells inside, at malls all across this country.

Tis the season to be jolly, except when you are driving or exchanging gifts that didn’t quite fit.  In the race to get great rates, what price are you still willing to pay as you try to appease your children every year.  Well, soon it will be all over, just a mass to make you feel good, then you can go back to behaving as you were.

What once was a holy night, is now great to catch a flight or stay at home to watch some bowl games on the tube.  It doesn’t matter who will be playing as long as Christmas music is airing in the background to get you in the spirit.  Meanwhile, angels are shaking their heads overseeing homes in disarray, urging you to quickly flip the channel.

Another rerun, another night, what happened to a wonderful life, lonelier than you have ever been before.  Is their any joy left in your hands or has quick sand penetrated this land, sweeping Christmas off its foundation?  I still believe peace can dwell on earth as long as there is something more behind the words, “Have a very Merry Christmas today!”

by Jay Mankus

Member of the International Society of Poets, 1994-1995.

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