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Tag Archives: South Carolina

Hooked, Lined and Sinking

Whenever anyone has made up their mind to do something, whether good or bad, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them from acting out what has been conceived within their mind. Jesus’ earthly brother, son of Mary and Joseph, compares this to a hungry fish. While some fish are smarter than others, a particular bait is too enticing to resist. From a spiritual standpoint, this is called hooked, lined, and sinking further and further away from a sound mind.

But before they lay down, the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, all the men from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know (be intimate with) them, Genesis 19:4-5.

As someone who has lived in the city and country, every area possesses what locals refer to as relatively safe and unsafe places. As a new resident to South Carolina, I may have ventured into danger without knowing about it. Nonetheless I try to stay alert so I don’t wander into trouble. Unfortunately sin clouds the minds of the addicted and those struggling with bad habits. Anyone who falls under the influence of temptation will likely emulate the enticed fish in the passage below.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

While Lot lived in a he city of Sodom, he kept to himself based upon Moses’ description. However as two angels visit Lot, it’s clear that the residents are open about their sexuality. Moses’ words highlight the enticement and lust inside their hearts. When human beings don’t care about changing for the better, it’s like a hooked fish sinking closer and closer toward death. Wake up before it’s too late.

By Jay Mankus


Talk About Bad Timing

Charles Dickens novel The Tale of Two Cities sums up timing in the opening paragraph. This book begins with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. Depending upon your perspective of a half full glass of water, you’ll bring optimism or pessimism. Some days at work unfold in a pleasant way while others coincide with Murphy’s Law, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong causing many to mutter, “talk about bad timing.”

Abram journeyed on, still going toward the South (the Negeb). 10 Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram [b]went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive (intense and grievous), Genesis 12:9-10.

Following God’s introduction in Haran, Abram takes a step of faith to pursue a promised land and nation. Yet, Abram’s wife Sarai was unable to have children despite numerous attempts leaving her labeled as barren. Meanwhile, on his way to this land God was going to give to Abram, a severe famine halted the original plans. While there’s never a good time for unforeseen trials to enter your life, God allows this drought to occur to see how Abram will handle faith under pressure.

Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come. 21 Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand. 22 That which is desired in a man is loyalty and kindness [and his glory and delight are his giving], but a poor man is better than a liar, Proverbs 19:20-22.

My move to South Carolina last summer can also be described as the best and worst of times. Great in the sense as it was the perfect time to sell a house, getting more than my wife and I expected. However, trying to find a new job in the middle of a recession was definitely bad timing. Just as Abram was tested in Egypt, my faith is still being grilled as I’m still waiting for God’s will for my future career to be revealed. As 2023 turns the page on January, don’t let bad timing rattle your faith. Rather, take the advice of Jesus’ earthly brother so maturity and wisdom will come to fruition as you undergo more trials this year, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting on Clarity

Clarity has many meanings depending upon the context it is used in. The one definition I found which applies to spiritual clarity is the quality of being easy to see or hear; as in sharpness of image or sound. Unfortunately, I’ve found the beginning of 2023 to be similar to how I ended 2022, cloudy, foggy with low visibility. Like a physical famine sweeping through a third world country, sometimes you have to wait on clarity until the storms of life subside.

Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come. 21 Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand, Proverbs 19:20-21.

King Solomon adds a solid piece of advice in the passage above. Many are the plans in a man’s or woman’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevails in the end. Upon my move to South Carolina, I had an idea of how things were eventually going to play out. Every time I thought God was about to open a new chapter in my life, this door slammed shut in my face. After a series of humiliating circumstances, I find myself once again waiting on clarity for my next phase in life to be revealed.

He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. 30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:29-31.

After complaining and moaning internally, I was reminded of the words from an Old Testament prophet. Isaiah uses a baby eagle learning to fly, leaving its nest for the first time. Like Tom Cruise’s classic line in Top Gun, “sometimes you crash and burn.” While I wait on clarity, I have to get up off the mat of disappointment to rise above how I feel. This is where faith is designed to take over, letting go of your life by letting Jesus take the reins, Romans 10:9-11. In God’s time, clarity will come.

by Jay Mankus

How Vision Can Keep You Going in 2023

One of the traits engrained within me from the Youth Ministry Trade School that I attended in the 1990’s is to be vision oriented. My first full time job following college did not use a time clock Instead, I filled out a weekly Plan of Action for my upcoming week. Every activity, event, and meeting on my weekly calendar had a specific purpose which I highlighted in my End of Week Report that I gave to my Senior Pastor. Maintaining vision produced spiritual results week after week.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

As I now try to figure out my place in South Carolina in 2023, vision is the only thing that keeps me from giving up hope on my future. During slow months at my current job, I have 3 days off a week which I fill with projects that I have planned out for the next two years. My immediate vision is completing a brick patio which will extend my front porch. My primary vision is completing the Improbable Escape, a true story which took place during World War II. God willing, this will be completed by May 1st so I can move on to a 3-tiered astroturf golf green with a nursey in the works for 2024.

 And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out, Mark 1:35-38.

While physical structures are enjoyable to complete, I also have a vision for my spiritual well-being. This includes joining a small group, a writer’s group and become an active member in the Aiken Community. The best way I know how to turn visions into reality is by emulating Jesus. If I can only discipline myself to develop a permanent time with God daily, this will keep me going like the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6. May this blog inspire you to make vision a guide for your future as “if you fail to plan; you plan to fail.”

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 357: Hittin’ Curves

If you’ve had your driver’s license long enough, you’ll probably hit a curb or tow. This usually occurs to me when I’m pulling out of a restaurant in a hurry, trying to avoid getting hit by oncoming traffic. Or you may have to back up to park on your street. While Delaware had curved curbs in my old neighborhood, South Carolina has square curbs so when you hit them, you definitely feel it.

Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you. 26 Consider well the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established and ordered aright. 27 Turn not aside to the right hand or to the left; remove your foot from evil, Proverbs 4:25-27.

King Solomon writes about where your eyes are located will determine the path that you take in life. The Christian rap group Grits sings about this in their song Hittin’ Curves. If you’re gazing straight ahead, the probability of you striking a curve goes down. However, if you’ve distracted by a phone or something else while driving, you can hit almost anything. When you remove these distractions while driving, you’ll avoid any curbs or curves that you’ll encounter.

by Jay Mankus

Concentrate on the Right Direction Rather than Destinations in 2023

The younger brother of Jesus learned an important life lesson from his big bro, “tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” James 4:13-15. While there is no record of praising their eldest son in the Bible, Mary and Joseph likely told James that Jesus would go places in life as a carpenter and man of God. James was likely one of the 500 people who spoke with Jesus following his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. One snippet from their discussion might have been centered on proceeding in the right direction in life rather than a specific destination.

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.

While writing a letter to warn his children about the dangers of life, King Solomon turns his attention toward trusting God. Similar to James’ warning about making plans for the future, Solomon emphasizes the need to place your heart, soul and mind into God’s hands. Though you may think that you should go to a particular place to work in a certain field in a specific city, the Lord knows what’s best for you. Unfortunately, when I moved to Aiken last summer, I was so sure of my future that I forget to lean on the Lord for my future position in South Carolina.

For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him. You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you, Psalm 32:6-8.

If I would have concentrated on going in the right direction spiritually, day by day, I’d be in a better place in my life as 2023 begins. Like the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-24. I had to learn the hard way, coming to my senses following a grueling day at work. It would be nice to know where you’ll be in a couple of weeks or months, but right now I’m clearly living outside of God’s will for my life. Therefore, it’s time to take the walk of shame back to my heavenly father to confess, “you were right, and I was wrong.” After confession comes clarity, one step at a time as God makes everything beautiful in His time.

by Jay Mankus

Details and Steps Toward Delight in 2023

As someone who has broken my leg, ankle and had major reconstruction surgery on my left leg and ankle, each time my cast was taken off, I had to relearn how to walk again without a limp. This concept also applies to your spiritual life. Whenever addictions, bad habits and sinful cravings that you can’t control pull you away from God, it takes time to recovery spiritually. Just as it takes a long-distance runner time to get back into shape at the start of a new season, developing a quality time of Bible Study and prayer doesn’t happen overnight.

The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step], Psalm 37:23.

According to King David, you have to take one step at a time spiritually. As a new resident of Aiken, South Carolina, I’ve taken my fair share of U-turns to head back in the right direction. For Christians, U-turns are an admission that you’ve been heading in the opposite directions of God. Like a stubborn man unwilling to stop and ask for directions when he’s lost, the quicker Christians stop to confess the errors of their ways to God, James 5:16, the sooner you’ll be heading back in the right direction. Spiritual details come to you as you step toward delighting the Lord once again.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. 106 I have sworn [an oath] and have confirmed it, that I will keep Your righteous ordinances [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying them], Psalm 119:103-106.

Psalm 119:105 is one of the most quote passages from the Old Testament. Unfortunately, the context of the verses before and after this verse has been neglected. As a teenager, I thought fundamental Christians were crazy. My faith was nothing more than a religion, missing out on a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. Yet, when I became on fire for God through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the words of the Bible became sweeter than honey. Nearly 40 years later, my daily Bible Study provides details and steps toward delighting the Lord. May today’s blog inspire you to daily read the Bible in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Christmas Gift for You

Since 2022 is my first Christmas living in South Carolina, all of my usual traditions were replaced with a new one. At seven in the morning, I went over to my sister in laws to watch my three-year-old niece and daughter open up their stockings. The rest of the morning was spent watching Annie open up her Christmas presents while eating breakfast. As I was observing from a distance, my mind pondered, “what’s God’s Christmas gift to me?”

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

As Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for his arrest and crucifixion during Passion Week, He spoke of how the spirit of Emmanuel would continue to live on following his departure. Jesus compared God’s presence to a counselor and spiritual guide. Although invisible like a Holy Ghost, God will announce and declare messages to you. Rather than place your trust in Amazon’s Alexa for knowledge or controlling your electricity, place your hope and trust in God’s Christmas gift for you.

For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [[d]full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue). By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

According to Luke, a first century doctor and historian, Peter was present on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:2-5. On this special day, Peter was overwhelmed by the power of the Holy Spirit. While writing 2 epistles known as Catholic Letters addressed to Christians scattered all over the world due to Nero’s persecution, Peter highlights what happens when you open up God’s Christmas gift for you. The Holy Spirit provides everything you need for life. Once you learn to separate yourself from the commercialism side of Christmas, may you have to faith to accept and embrace God’s gift to you, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 322: Walking in a Winter Wonderland

My parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio during my sophomore year of college. When I returned to my folk’s new home in December of 1989, I was shocked by the weather. I spent a little under 4 weeks in Cleveland and it snowed 21 of the 24 days that I was there. Living in the snow belt, southeast of Lake Erie, every Christmas there was like Walking in a Winter Wonderland. Before getting to the renown singers, I felt a tradition hymn would be a nice change

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes! Cease to do evil, 17 Learn to do right! Seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct the oppressor. Defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. 18 Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool, Isaiah 1:16-18.

The passage above is one of my favorite verses on the topic of snow. The prophet Isaiah compares the covering of snow on the earth’s surface to being cleansed and made whole again. Every winter dirt, salt, leaves and debris are tracked into houses across the country. While I probably won’t have any white Christmases now that I live in South Carolina. I’m thankful that I can walk in freedom. This is all thanks to a forgiving God who washes the dirt of sin and purifies us with a fresh blanket of snow.

by Jay Mankus

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

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