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S.A.N.S. Episode 50: That Lonesome Road

Today’s featured song comes from a band that formed during my senior year of high school. Mad at the World debuted in 1987 in Southern California behind the efforts of two brothers: Roger and Randy Rose. This group combines the in-your-face passion of punk rock with an alternative style of Christian music. That Lonesome Road serves as a warning for those who make bad choices in life.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The lyrics of That Lonesome Road is a modern-day prodigal son song of what happens to human beings who make bad decisions. Sin has a way of separating Christians from the people who love them. Yet, like Peter’s initial encounter with the White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia, choosing temporary pleasures in life will lead to loneliness and disappointment. May That Lonesome Road inspire you to take the path less traveled, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

Offer Up a Sacrifice of Praise in 2022

The apostle Paul builds upon what he learned from Jewish religious leaders in Romans 12:1-2. Rather than offer up a living animal up to God to atone for sin, Paul urges followers of Jesus to offer up their bodies as a living sacrifice. This post resurrection calling is a way to please God. Yet, this spiritual exercise yields insight such as what God’s will is for your life.

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name, Hebrews 13:15.

Until you receive clarity about your purpose and future callings, the author of Hebrews provides similar advice in the passage above. Marie Barnett experienced this while writing the words to the song This is the Air We Breathe. Barnett recalls how these words spontaneously came out during a Sunday evening service at the Mission Viejo Vineyard in Southern California.

I am as a wonder and surprise to many, but You are my strong refuge. My mouth shall be filled with Your praise and with Your honor all the day. Cast me not off nor send me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent and my powers fail, Psalm 71:7-9.

The book of Psalms is filled with commands to praise the Lord. One Psalmist declares that human beings were designed to praise God. Perhaps, this is the key to discovering God’s will for your life in 2022. The more you pour out your soul with praise to the Great I Am, mysteries about your future will be unveiled like Marie Barnett’s testimony. Therefore, offer up a sacrifice of praise in 2022 as you’ll never know where worship will lead you until you weekly celebrate the only living God.

by Jay Mankus

When the Storms of Life Come Crashing through Your Front Door

At this stage in life, I consider myself blessed. From an early age, I’ve had opportunities to travel throughout the United States. From the scenic views of Arcadia National Park in Maine to the palm trees of Miami Beach, these trips have sketched wonderful memories in my mind. As I have grown older, I have gone from the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia all the way to southern California to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Whenever you travel a lot, you’re exposed to different types of climate and weather phenomena. Throughout my half century on earth, I’ve survived blizzards, earthquakes, hurricanes, northeasters and tornadoes. One of my first brushes with a natural disaster occurred while on vacation as a child.

For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, 2 Corinthians 5:1.

One summer in Maine, my two sisters and I got stuck in a hail storm, running for cover with our hand over our heads. The cabin my parents rented shook, the lights went out and hail continue to crash upon the roof. An hour later, we went out to check for damage. Apparently, a water spout crossed the lake and took out a neighbor’s house. Until today, I was one of the lucky ones, unaffected by nature’s wrath. As I was running to my car to escape the rain, I noticed a few shingles laying in my front yard. Looking back, an entire section of my sliding above my front door was ripped off and missing, exposing 2 pieces of plywood. With another inch of rain expected tonight, only God knows what the total damage will be.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed)—not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection], 2 Corinthians 5:4.

If this would have happened at any other time in my life, I would have been angry, frustrated and stressed out about the cost of this damage. Yet, my first thought was, “I guess it was my time to tackle adversity.” A few years ago a micro burst picked up our trampoline, struck two fences and was thrown into a neighbor’s yard, but our house was spared. Perspective has a way of revealing what matters, my wife and children are fine. Thus, while I’ll have to dig into savings to quickly restore this damage, this nuisance will soon past. Therefore, if the next weather system comes crashing through your front door, remember to praise God as you go through this spiritual storm.

by Jay Mankus

Is God Really on Your Side?

Two weeks ago a speech during a protest in Southern California set social media on fire.  United States representative Maxine Waters turned her small podium into a pulpit stirring members of the audience.  When I heard the initial audio of this message, Waters sounded like a preacher speaking to the choir as the crowds chimed back in agreement.  Beside encouraging supporters to harass members of president Trump’s political team, there was one other statement that got my attention.  Representative Waters believed she was doing God’s work with the Lord on her side.  This comment led me to ponder, how do you know if God is truly on your side?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

After his conversion from Judaism to faith in Christ, first century believers initially thought Saul from Tarsus was merely pretending as a plot to destroy the apostles and disciples of Jesus.  This surprising development perplexed his fellow Jews, especially after overseeing the death of Stephen in Acts 7 and further persecution by ravaging church members in Acts 8.  I guess you can say Saul who became the apostle Paul played both sides of the fence until the Holy Spirit transformed his ways.  According to Acts 9:23-25, the Jewiish leaders quickly turned on Saul, plotting to kill Saul.  After escaping death, Paul’s missionary trips throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe clearly demonstrated that God was on Paul’s side.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6.

In the days of the Old Testament, God’s favor was recognized through a series of blessings, Deuteronomy 29:1-14.  While some may rationalize a few good breaks as lucky, those who live in accordance with God’s commands receive special anointings.  Eye witnesses of these individuals referred to their encounters as if God was walking by their side.  Meanwhile, the New Testament uses a different standard.  God will bring to completion the gifts, resources and talents of those who remain faithful and true to God’s calling.  Spiritual harvests are a sign that God is with specific people.  While time will tell if God is on Maxine Waters’ side, don’t leave this up to chance. Rather, set out to be a good and faithful servant to that which God has given you.  If you do, you will receive eternal crowns in heaven while letting your actions do the taking for you.

by Jay Mankus

Gulping Down Evil

Prior to 1955, a bottle of Coca Cola was 6.5 ounces.  If you pour 5 of these into a big gulp cup, the final one will spill out over the top.  Realizing the need for expansion, Coca Cola experimented with a 32 ounce cup supplied to 7 Eleven chains in Southern California.  By 1976, despite public pressure concerning obesity, the Big Gulp was conceived.

A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil, Proverbs 19:28.

Although 7 Eleven stores did not exist during the Old Testament, there were some individuals who developed reputations as heavy drinkers.  Since Jewish weddings could last up to a week, guests who traveled from out of town were wined and dined.  Participating in these festivities likely influenced the words King Solomon chose in the passage above.  Comparing drinking to corruption, there are some people who gulp down evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Almost 20 years ago, my friend and I both contradicted Lyme Disease in the same summer.  While my symptoms were caught early, his went overlooked for several months.  Unfortunately, he lost his sense of taste, unable to distinguish between that which is sweet or bitter.  The same can be said about individuals who can’t discern between good from evil.  Subsequently, its possible for a wayward soul to reach a place where one begins to gulp evil.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

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