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Tag Archives: South Carolina

S.A.N.S. Episode 291: God Who Moves the Mountains

I recently moved from one of the flattest states in the country, Delaware, to the Midlands of western South Carolina. My commute to work is up and down steep hills, over and over again for an hour. When I first heard the lyrics of today’s song, God Who Moves the Mountains, I’m reminded of why many prayers lifted up by Christians that go unanswered. Mountains serve as a mental block, causing doubt to replace faith as described by Jesus in the passage below.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]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.

Despite the unknown of the future, Jesus taught his disciples to trust in the One who can move mountains. This in the inspiration behind Corey Voss’ song God Who Moves the Mountains. Jesus presents twelve men with the ideal scenario: the could be/should be result for any prayer spoken as long as you believe in the God who moves mountains. As you listen to the lyrics, may you be inspired to intensify your prayer life with a faith that moves mountains.

by Jay Mankus

Admirable, Fitting, and Good

I recently completely a six-month project of regrading my backyard in South Carolina. Prior to moving in, there was a 45 degree drop off at our property line due to having a house on the top of a hill. My brother-in-law Mike worked with a local landscaper to build a retaining wall along a 50 feet section in the middle of our backyard. While this was completed in March, moving 4 tons of sand/fill with wheel barrels took longer than expected. After sodding this area last weekend, I gave the final approval of this work.

God called the dry land Earth, and the accumulated waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good (fitting, admirable) and He approved it, Genesis 1:10.

Like an artist completing a portrait, God gazed and reflected upon the land mass called the earth. At the end of the second day of creation, God approved of the work He had completed. Unfortunately, human beings often get caught up with what’s happening tomorrow that they fail to focus on what the Lord has allowed you to accomplish today. While I am a realistic, I need to be less critical of myself by developing a spirit of appreciation for all the accomplishments and blessings in my life.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:8.

The apostle Pail writes about this positive mindset in the passage above. Perhaps, Paul learned this lesson from Jesus’ earthly brother, James 1:2-4. If you learn to consider the obstacles in life as the process and road to maturity, your perspective will change. Since part of life is trial and error, think about life lessons that are admirable, fitting, and good. While human emotions will cause knee jerk reactions in the future, accept this and move on to a healthier and positive state of mind.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 271: Gratitude

Today’s song comes from a worship pastor at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Brandon Lake is also a member of the Bethel Music and the Maverick City Music collective team. Since today’s song falls on the Sabbath, Brandon’s song Gratitude is fitting. Part of any worship service is raising your voice in song as a form as gratitude to God.

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19.

The context of the passage above comes the apostle Paul. Paul’s first impression of Thessalonica wasn’t a good one. Subsequently, Paul felt like this new church needed to focus on the positive aspects in life rather than the negative. As you listen to Gratitude by Brandon Lake, may you be inspired to take the time daily to thank God for all blessings in your life.

by Jay Mankus

The Cost of Sacrifice

Prior to taking a walk with his disciples, Jesus rebukes James and John for their worldly mindset in Luke 9:54-56. This verbal admonishment appears to have gotten all of the disciple’s attention. Rather than say something stupid, the disciples listened intently to Jesus’ interactions with three individuals who were eager to become one of Jesus’ disciples. What they all heard was the cost of sacrifice.

And it occurred that as they were going along the road, a man said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. 58 And Jesus told him, Foxes have lurking holes and the birds of the air have roosts and nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head. 59 And He said to another, [v]Become My disciple, side with My party, and accompany Me! But he replied, Lord, permit me first to go and bury ([w]await the death of) my father. 60 But Jesus said to him, Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and publish abroad [x]throughout all regions the kingdom of God, Luke 9:57-60.

Jesus wasn’t being rude to these young Christians hoping to join His ministry team. Rather, Jesus was like a spiritual drill sergeant trying to expose the flaws and weaknesses of their faith. In the classic film Hoosiers, Gene Hackman tells parents of his basketball team that his players have to be stripped down before he can build them back up the right way. This is what Jesus was doing in today’s passage.

Another also said, I will follow You, Lord, and become Your disciple and side with Your party; but let me first say good-bye to those at my home. 62 Jesus said to him, No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back [to the things behind] is fit for the kingdom of God, Luke 9:61-62.

I’ve spent the last decade of my life in a comfortable place. My move to South Carolina this summer taught me about the cost of sacrifice. While I gave up a great paying job that was an ideal fit for my talents, family is more important than making money. Sure, good paying jobs provide luxuries in life. In the end, you have to solely trust in the Lord to provide, Matthew 6:33. May today’s blog help remind you of the cost of sacrifice.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Ready for God’s Test?

If you have ever studied the life of Abraham in Genesis, he had a tendency to act like a modern politician. Subsequently, one of the generational sins passed down to his son Isaac was lying. The most obvious is when Abraham told a powerful ruler that his wife Sarah was merely his sister. Since Abraham failed this test, the next one forced Abraham to choose his allegiance in the passage below.

After these events, God tested and proved Abraham and said to him, Abraham! And he said, Here I am. [God] said, Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering upon one of the mountains of which I will tell you. So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him and his son Isaac; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and then began the trip to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance, Genesis 22:1-4.

Peter is another example who is seen as a spiritual rock in Matthew 16:18 but had his own issues when he thought his life was in danger, Mark 14:72. Peter viewed Jesus as an earthly king, expecting Him to be crowned King of the Jews. Yet, when God’s plan didn’t fit his own expectations, Peter denied knowing Jesus in public three times. Peter was so overconfident, 1 Corinthians 10:12, he failed God’s test. Nonetheless, one failure prepared Peter for a future one where he passed like Abraham, John 21:15-19.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

As Tom Hanks declared in Forrest Gump, “every day is like a box of chocolates, you never know what’s inside.” As the sun rises on another day, are you ready for God’s next test in your life? Since moving to South Carolina, I haven’t done well. I’ve become a D student spiritually. Perhaps if I would take a leap of faith rather than trust in my own abilities, I’ll become a better student by years end. As for now, keep in step with God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25 and when your overwhelmed, trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting Through Doubt

I find that confidence and doubt are competing in a daily tug of war. The apostle Paul describes a similar process in Galatians 5:16-18 as this internal battle takes place in the spiritual realm. The older I become, the confidence that I’ve possessed most of my life has been shaken since moving to South Carolina. I even struggle with basic self-confidence as I find myself fighting through doubt daily.

Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said, Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:25-29.

Today’s selected passage is one of the best examples of fighting through doubt. Jesus’ own disciples experience a series of emotions from fear to awe and back to fear. As the disciples headed off on a boat, Jesus stayed behind to minister to needy individuals. To catch up, Jesus walked on water through the night, making it appear that He was a ghost. The disciples’ minds couldn’t process this initially.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God,” Matthew 14:30-33.

Rubbing his eyes in disbelief at Jesus walking on water, Peter willed himself to imagine the impossible. As Peter fought through doubt, he begins to play a game of Truth or Dare with Jesus. Jesus’ response to Peter’s request brought him to take a leap of faith. Peter exited this boat to stand on the water with Jesus. The only mistake Peter made was to take his eyes off of Jesus to dwell on the water, Hebrews 12:1-2. When your own waves of disbelief come crashing ashore, fight through doubt with a will to stand.

by Jay Mankus

Leading by Example

Routines are like a comfort zone for people who thrive in a structured environment. Yet, my recent move to South Carolina has thrown me into a foreign land where I’m trying to figure out how everything works. At times, I feel like an undercover boss, seeing day to day details with fresh eyes. Unfortunately, this state is no different than Delaware with people saying one thing but failing to lead by example.

The instruments and methods of the fraudulent and greedy [for gain] are evil; he devises wicked devices to ruin the poor and the lowly with lying words, even when the plea of the needy is just and right, Isaiah 32:7.

Passing the buck and casting the blame are learned skills from adults on television. Whenever someone does take responsibility for their actions is a rare sight in America today. I was taught long ago that integrity is doing right when nobody’s watching. As a new employee, I see people change their work habits depending upon who’s around. I guess I’m just old school as work is work until it’s time to play.

But the noble, openhearted, and liberal man devises noble things; and he stands for what is noble, openhearted, and generous, Isaiah 32:8.

According to one Old Testament prophet, the noble lead by example. This isn’t done to get noticed or recognized. Rather it’s to please God by emulating the life of Jesus, Ephesians 4:1-3. I can’t waste my time worrying about what other people are doing or saying. As long as I strive to demonstrate the beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, I’ll lead by example and let God take care of my future career.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 194: One Hell of an Amen

Now that I am a full-time resident of South Carolina, I am surrounded by country music. Earlier this spring I was searching for a song that complimented one of my daily devotionals. After clicking on a few You Tubes, I stumbled upon Brantley Gilbert’s song One Hell of an Amen. The lyrics tell stories of a soldier who died for his country and another adult battling cancer.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

One Hell of an Amen alludes to the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. Paul is urging a teenage pastor to keep fighting for Jesus by living out your faith. Meanwhile, One Hell of an Amen encourages listeners to live each day like it’s your last before the Lord calls you home to heaven. Since Amen means “so be it,” fight the good fight of faith.

by Jay Mankus

My Own Personal Story of the Living Years

Mike Rutherford started Mike and the Mechanics as a side project while a member of the group Genesis. This decision opened the door for Mike to leave the spotlight of lead singer Phil Collins to begin his own music legacy. While Mike and the Mechanics released several popular songs, the Living Years was by far their most meaningful hit. I was reminded of this song when my mother-in-law passed away last week.

 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.

In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, my wife and her sister decided to remove Barb from a nursing home in Chicago so that she could stay the remainder of her living years at Laura’s home in South Carolina. This wasn’t an easy decision but was made so that Barb could live as close to a normal life as possible for someone in her weakened condition. While living in Delaware, Leanne made as many trips to Aiken as possible until our families move in June of 2022.

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.

Barb fought hard, living 22 months in South Carolina, allowing my wife to be there for the final two months. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when a loved one can’t communicate with you. Yet, Leanne was there for the final 48 hours until Barb went home to be with the Lord on August 4th, 2022. As the Wagner family prepares to say goodbye at the funeral in Chicago, I will always remember the Living Years when Barb was at her best playing with her grandchildren or improving her home. R.I.P.

by Jay Mankus

It’s as Hot as Hell Out There

In my first summer as a South Carolina resident, I have endured a drought in June and severe thunderstorms in July. However, as August is about to begin, temperatures are expected to reach triple digits. When you add in the extreme humidity, some may suggest “it’s as hot as hell outside.” This idiom comes from an ancient proverb comparing the Bible’s description of hell with hot summer days.

Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! – Matthew 25:41

One chapter in the Gospels is devoted to what heaven will be like, Matthew 25. Yet, on the other side of heaven is hell. Jesus describes hell as a place of eternal punishment for those who were kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12. This cursed destination is unlike any summer heatwave on earth. Like an active volcano, there is a river of fire which is filled with brimstone and Sulphur.

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft, Revelation 9:1-2.

One of Jesus’ former disciples has a vision of what hell will be like. While looking through a shaft, John sees a bottomless pit. Based upon the description in the passage above, hell is like working in an old coal mine except you can’t leave. As for now, heatwaves will continue until September. While it’s never a pleasant experience to be drenched in sweat, make the best of summer until the cool winds of fall arrive.

by Jay Mankus

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