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S.A.N.S. Episode 279: Soul Worth Saving

Today’s song comes from the duo Jordan Phillips and Adam Stark. These two musicians from Nashville, Tennessee formed the group Apollo LTD. One of Apollo’s recent songs reminds me of one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Jesus’ earthly brother writes about a deed that covers over a multitude of sins. According to James, anyone who turns a sinner from the error of their way demonstrates God’s calling to save lost souls.

[My] brethren, if anyone among you strays from the Truth and falls into error and another [person] brings him back [to God], 20 Let the [latter] one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save [that one’s] soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins [[a]procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert], James 5:19-20.

Back in my early days as an aspiring youth director, I met an outcast at a church lock-in which began at a nearby bowling alley. After a few minutes of observing this group of teenagers, it didn’t take look to recognize the boy others referred to as Satan. Inspired by heavy metal groups, this lost soul enjoyed being the bad boy at church. Over the next several hours, I listened, making it my mission to invest in a soul worth saving. Before the night was over, this teen gave his heart to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 270: Speak to the Mountains

Today’s featured song comes from the son of youth pastor. While Chris McClarney was forced to move several times as a child due to the volatility of youth ministry, he now resides in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife and children. One of my favorite Chris McClarney songs is Speak to the Mountains. Chirs’ lyrics remind me that God is bigger than my troubles in life.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

In the chorus of Speak to the Mountains, Chris sings with conviction of his belief that nothing is impossible with God on your side. I just wish I wasn’t shaken by the daily trials that I face in life. Perhaps, the more I listen to Speak to the Mountains I will be motivated to stop panicking and begin to trust in the Lord with all my heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 263: Jericho

Andrew Ripp first broke into the national music scene as a songwriter with contributions on Ryan Cabrera’s album and You Stand Watching. This Christian artist from Nashville, Tennessee would go on to become a Grammy-nominated songwriter. One of Andrew’s latest projects is the song Jericho which I recently heard on my ride home from work.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout, and [Jericho’s] wall fell down in its place, so that the [Israelites] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city, Joshua 6:20.

Of all the amazing war stories in the Bible, the fall of Jericho may still be the most bizarre. Using music and worship as a weapon of war is unheard of, but this is the divine method chosen by God. Following six days of marching around the exterior walls of Jericho, Israel repeats this on the final day of the week to usher in the final piece of God’s promised land. As you listen to Jericho, may you be reminded of God’s power to fulfill the Lord’s plan and purposes.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 244: Testify to Love

The Christian group Avalon formed in 1995 as a vocal quartet from Nashville, Tennessee. However, over the years, Avalon’s focus on worship music led to a slight name change to Avalon Worship. I was first introduced to Avalon through one of their Christmas albums. While some of their songs or more memorable than others, Testify to Love is one of my favorites.

And He said to them, Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole [e]human race], Mark 16:15

The lyrics to Testify to Love are based upon the passage above. Known as the Great Commission, Jesus leaves a blueprint behind for future Christians to follow, Acts 1:8. First century Jewish Christians completed phase one: testifying about Jesus to everyone in Jerusalem. The apostles completed phase two by the end of the first century by testifying to surrounding towns and villages. The final phase is up to believers to testify about Jesus to the ends of the earth. May this song inspire you to do your part.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 213: Let Me Drown

We As Human formed in Nashville, Tennessee in the mid 2000’s. Like any hungry musician passionate to share their music, We as Human toured relentlessly, building a loyal following in Nashville and around the United States. Over the years, lead singer Justin Cordle, guitarists Jake Jones and Justin Forshaw, bassist Dave Draggoo, and drummer Adam Osborne has been a success with songs like Let Me Drown.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in and[a]acknowledge and cleave to Me to stumble and sin [that is, who entices him or hinders him in right conduct or thought], it would be better ([b]more expedient and profitable or advantageous) for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be sunk in the depth of the sea, Matthew 18:6.

After listening to the lyrics for the first time, I thought of Jesus’ words in the passage above. Yet, the lyrics point to someone who doesn’t feel worthy to live. While Justin sings about the fate of drowning, it’s up to God whether or not he survives the crashing waves and water. Whatever is going on in your life, make sure you don’t cause a little child to stumble or fall by the life that you live.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 212: Breathe Into Me

Whether you are a country artist or Christian band, Nasville, Tennessee tends to be a common destination. This music hub is where Red, an American Christian rock band formed. Brothers Anthony Armstrong and Randy Armstrong joined up with lead vocalist Michael Barnes to form the distinct sound of Red. Depending upon the specific song, Red has an alternative sound with a mix of metal or rock.

So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself). 18 But I ask, Have they not heard? Indeed they have; [for the Scripture says] Their voice [that of nature bearing God’s message] has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the far bounds of the world, Romans 10:17-18.

The video of Breathe into Me begins with a woman lying on a hospital bed. When you add the lyrics to the video, you get the sense Michael Barnes is praying to God for a miracle. Yet, you can interpret more than one meaning. Whenever a crisis arises, people respond with desperation. As a Christian, we all need to be revived and renewed. May this song challenge you to rely on the Lord for all your life and vigor.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 187: Wonderful Thing

Bret and Diana Pemelton formed Dream of Eden in Nashville, Tennessee. To a certain extent, Dream of Eden followed the mold set by Out of the Grey. While the Pemelton’s hasn’t had the national success of Out of the Grey, they have still produced albums that have touched my heart. Today’s featured song Wonderful Thing is also the first song on their album with the same name.

But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for us, Romans 5:8.

The lyrics of Wonderful Thing are inspired by the love of Jesus. Knowing that Jesus was willing to lay down his life for sinners is a wonderful thing. While John 3:16-17 gets more recognition, Paul’s words in the passage above display God’s grace and mercy. While Dream of Eden’s pop and soft rock isn’t for everyone, I hope you enjoy Wonderful Thing.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 178: Feel Invincible

Since all three on my children attended a technical high school, concentrating on Culinary Arts, when I think of a skillet its’ another way to cook dinner. However, the Christian Rock band Skillet formed in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1996. While Skillet has a similar sound to Thousand Foot Krutch, they are a little more brash and, in your face, singing with conviction and passion.

Do not give that which is holy (the sacred thing) to the dogs, and do not throw your pearls before hogs, lest they trample upon them with their feet and turn and tear you in pieces, Matthew 7:6.

Human nature has a way of convincing young people that they are invincible. Meanwhile, when a freshman completes their first year of college, many come home for the summer believing that they are smarter than their parents. When you add pride to this equation, feeling invincible is a daily occurrence until God brings humility into your life. May today’s song rock your world toward trusting in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 71: Pray for Rain

Today’s group began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, disbanded in 1997 and reunited in Nashville, Tennessee three years later. To avoid a lawsuit, Prayer for Rain shortened their name to PFR upon their return to the concert circuit. “Pray for Rain” is a line from a poem that touched band member Patrick Andrew who convinced the group to adopt this name in 1992.

Call to Me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, fenced in and hidden, which you do not know (do not distinguish and recognize, have knowledge of and understand), Jeremiah 33:3.

From a genre perspective, PFR is the closest sound the Christian music industry has to a modern-day Beatles. When you listen to Pray For Run, you’ll sense and recognize how the Beatles influenced PFR’s distinct sound. The lyrics of Pray For Run speak to individuals who become comfortably numb, praying for rain to snap them out of their spiritual slumber. I hope you enjoy one of PFR’s first hit songs.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 27: Pull

Before all of my local Christian bookstores closed down, I spent numerous evenings sorting through the bargain bins of CD’s. If there weren’t any samples that I could listen to, I would study the album cover to see how much money was spent on the graphics. While this strategy wasn’t always successful, I discovered a few hidden gems over the years. One of these artists is a group called Curious Fools.

Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God, for He is gracious and lovely; praise is becoming and appropriate, Psalm 147:1.

Today’s song reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s classic tune Stairway to Heaven. While Curious Fools possesses its own classic rock feel, this group actually began as a songwriting team from Nashville, Tennessee in 1991. Drama teams have used the lyrics of Pull to perform moving presentations to illustrate how daily temptations seek to pull Christians away from God and toward sin. Enjoy Pull!

by Jay Mankus

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