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S.A.N.S. Episode 310: Ave Maria

Of all of the great Christmas classics that have been recorded over the years, the one that touches my heart, stirs my soul and often brings tears streaming down my face is Ave Maria. There were numerous versions that I wanted to feature, but I thought it would be appropriate to play one sang in Latin. When translated from Latin into English Ave Marie means “Hail Mary.” Whoopi Goldberg charcter uses a portion of this sang as she leads a group of nuns as their choir director in Sister Act.

And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband? 35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God, Luke 1:34-35.

In the Christan film the Nativity Story, the 2005 version, there is an amazing scene without words that illustrates what Mary had to endure. A virgin seen pregnant in public will elicit gossip, judgment and stigmas. According to Gospel of Matthew, Joseph had plans to divorce Mary quietly because he thought like many others in his village that she had been unfaithful. This all changed when an angel appeared to Jospeh in a dream, Matthew 1:20-25. This is the inspiration behind Ave Maria.

by Jay Mankus

Active and Moving

To survive in the spiritual realm, you have to be alert, discerning, and proactive. Based upon the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-12, the Devil is always scheming something to take down Christians daily. One of Jesus’ disciples reveals this plot in 1 Peter 5:8. As someone who wasn’t prepared for Jesus’ arrest, Peter learned the hard way after publicly denying Jesus three times. Staying spiritually active and moving prevents you from becoming separated from God’s flock, other believers.

The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters, Genesis 1:2.

During an interaction at work last month, one of my managers noticed that I was always diligent and working hard when he sees me. My quick response naturally flowed out of me, “I only have one speed.” Either I’m still a hyperactive child in my fifties or I possess an old school mentality: “work is work and play comes after hours.” Like the Spirit of God hovering and moving over the earth prior to creation, I get antsy when I remain stagnant. Active and moving is more of my natural pace in life.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [g]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

According to one biblical author, the Holy Spirit isn’t the only thing moving and active. While the Bible has been translated into 724 languages as of 2022, the words inside this book are supernatural. The passage above highlights how a verse or an entire passage can emotionally move you. Whether it’s your conscience, heart or soul, conviction has a way of moving through our bodies. The next time you read the Bible, may you experience an active and moving God who resides in your heart via Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 290: Household of Faith

Sometimes you hear a song on the radio, but the DJ fails to tell you after the song is over who this was by. I first heard this song months ago but didn’t catch the artist’s name. While I assumed the title was Household of Faith, something distracted me on my way home from work. Subsequently, my short-term memory erased the lyrics from my mind. After a recent You Tube search, this song was on the top of my computer screen as I discover Household of Faith is by Winner and Shen.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

As someone who was witnessed multiple friends and neighbors have their marriages end in divorce, the lyrics of Household of Faith serve as a prayer to keep faith at the center of your marriage. Unfortunately, when couples lose the will to love one another, it’s like Eve in the Garden of Eden staring at the forbidden fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge. May today’s song inspire you to hold fast to faith whenever a spiritual storm approaches.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 261: Next to Me

 Sometimes when you hear a new song for the first time, it may take time to decide if you like it or not. When I first heard today’s featured song by Jordan Feliz, I was curious by his combination of folk rock and soul style of Christian pop. Jordan incorporates the parable of the Prodigal Son into the lyrics of Next to Me as a call to come back home to Jesus.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field, Deuteronomy 28:1-3.

As I listened to a portion of the lyrics, I was reminded by the words of Moses. Prior to passing the baton to Joshua as Israel’s spiritual leader, Moses writes about blessings that come from God when believers are obedient. This is what Jordan sings about in the line “feeling deep down in his soul.” May Jordan’s message in Next to Me encourage you to draw close to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 219: Stand in Your Love

Today’s song comes from another worship leader at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Josh Baldwin polished his skills as the worship leader at MorningStar Fellowship Church after attending their ministry school. The lyrics of Stand In Your Love alludes to the spiritual war mentioned by the apostle Paul. This song begins by addressing darkness which will try to enter your soul.

Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place], Ephesians 6:13.

Apparently, the Church at Ephesus was dealing with their own spiritual war. This ordeal inspired Paul to introduce the armor of God which is how Christian’s win spiritual battles. Rather than give into the dark side of temptation, Josh calls the church to stand in God’s love. May the lyrics of Stand in Your Love urge you to trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 214: Singing in the Rain

Today’s song comes from north of the border. Brothers Michael and Shawn Cavallo formed Manic Drive back in 2004. This Canadian Christian rock band is living their dream as children as each began singing at an early age. Today’s song is Singing in the Rain, which mixes pop with soft rock. The lyrics serve as a reminder to not let the weather dictate your mood.

I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase and the trees of the field yield their fruit, Leviticus 26:4.

As a child living in Delaware, I remember singing in the rain as drops from the sky cooled off the summer heat for a short time. Rain is one of those things that farmers rejoice while Little Leaguers are forced to wait another day to play their game. Regardless of the time of year, rain is provided by the Lord in due season to give life to plants every spring. May today’s song bring joy to your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Resonate

The textbook definition of resonate is to produce or be filled with a deep, full, reverberating sound. This may be in the form of a blare, chime or ding that reverberates like a local church bell that you may have in your community. Growing up in a friendly Delaware neighborhood, Mrs. Kerth rang her cowbell every summer night to let us know it was time for dinner. Even when we were playing hide and go seek in nearby woods, the sound of this bell would resonate to get our attention.

My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. 21 Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart, Proverbs 4:20-21.

King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs to help his children grow up to pursue God’s wisdom. One specific passage resonates with “wisdom from God’s mouth to gain knowledge and understanding.” Solomon relays the connection between your heart and the wellspring to life in today’s passage. After writing about health and healing, Solomon’s command is to guard your heart.

For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh. 23 Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life, Proverbs 4:22-23.

Jesus speaks of this fact in Luke 6:45 as the mouth speaks out of the overflow of your heart. If loose lips sink ships, a heart dwelling on the wrong things will begin to spew venom. Subsequently, as a new generation grows up without any regards to curse words that flow out of potty mouths, four letter words are resonating. May the words of Jesus and Solomon strike a cord with your soul so that wholesome language returns to America.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 190: By Your Side

One of my former high school students introduced me to today’s featured artist. Tenth Avenue North is a contemporary Christian music band from West Palm Beach, Florida. Over the past two decades, this group ministered to Christians across the United States. In their song By Your Side, today’s video interviews a couple of people who were forced to start over in life following natural disasters.

He who [a]dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence, Psalm 91:1-3.

One of the Psalmist explains how God can be by your side despite being invisible. This divine being has a calming presence to help you overcome extreme circumstances. Like the Footprints poem, God will carry you for extended periods, signaled by one set of footprints on the sand. As you watch today’s vdeo, may the words of By Your Side speak to your heart and encourage your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Keeping Your Soul Well

To an ordinary person, the soul is an immaterial part of a human being. Yet, once an individual becomes spiritually enlightened, souls become the essence of who you are, and the person God wants you to be. At the beginning of a first century letter, John prays for the prosperity of bodies and the wellness of souls. Building upon the words of Proverbs 4:23, John is concerned with protecting the wellspring of life.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers, 3 John 1:2.

The prosperity movement in the church has left countless souls feeling disappointed and empty. The idea that if you give x amount of money to this cause, you will receive a bounty full of blessings is not accurate. This concept taken from Malachi 3:8-10 is based upon tithing. When Christians reach a point in their faith of complete trust in God to provide, there is a promise to open the storehouses of heaven. To avoid a long-drawn-out biblical debate, these blessings come in many shapes and forms.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord [the only Lord]. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your [mind and] heart and with your entire being and with all your might, Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

Jesus quotes Moses words in the passage above in Matthew 22:37-40. One way to keep your soul well is by making God your top priority in life, Matthew 6:33-34. As Christians mature and reach an understanding of God’s daily bread from Israel’s days of wandering in the wilderness, human effort is taken out of this equation. Somehow and someway as Christians seek God’s righteousness first, mysterious and unexplainable things begin to happen. Some may never reach this degree of faith, but if you do, you’ll be eager to protect and guard your heart so that your soul remains well.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 112: I Can’t Quit

Today’s featured song comes from a group that I discovered on You Tube. While listening to a mix of Christian dance songs from various artists, Capital Kings kicked off this collection. I debated between “the Paradigm” and “I Can’t Quit.” While both songs have an exceptional beat and sound, I Can’t Quit contains more inspirational lyrics that most people can relate to in a world filled with defeat.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul addresses this topic. Human nature has a way of weakening downtrodden souls to lose heart. When you heart isn’t into what you are doing, minds tune out which results in the act of quitting. Whatever circumstance or situation that you are currently facing, remember the Capital Kings song I Can’t Quit so that faith prevails as you learn to press on day after day.

by Jay Mankus

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