RSS Feed

Tag Archives: testimony

The Tent of the Testimony

If you asked me what a testimony was in high school, I would point to the court room. Likely quoting a scene from Law and Order which was popular back in the day. Yet, as I began to attend spiritual events like camps, conferences and retreats, my ears were introduced to the biblical meaning of a testimony. The classic hymn In the Garden compares a testimony to your own personal story like taking a walk back through time.

After this I looked and the sanctuary of the tent of the testimony in heaven was thrown open, Revelation 15:5.

During one of his many visions that comprise the Book of Revelation, John sees a sanctuary. However, this place is a tent, perhaps something like the tent of meeting detailed by Moses in Leviticus 1:1-17. Yet, John doesn’t focus on the physical dimensions. Rather, John’s attention is focused on what’s going on inside this tent, testimonies of believers up in heaven. This is the Tent of the Testimony.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis[b] how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed, Mark 5:18-20.

The Christian artist who simply goes by the name Carmen attempts to describe this heavenly place in his song Lazarus Come Forth. The context of Carmen’s song is based upon the shortest verse in the battle, Jesus wept, John 11:35. Carmen compares the Tent of the Testimony to a Tent Revival from Great Awakenings of the past as believers take turns sharing stories of how each entered into a personal relationship with God. May today’s blog inspire you to share your own testimony with a friend today.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 221: Franklin Park

As a Gen X-er, rarely did my children and I see eye to eye on music. However, when I played an old CD mix in my car, one of my sons was extremely surprised by today’s James Clay song. Franklin Park isn’t the most spiritual song that you’ll find, but the inspiration behind the lyrics is noteworthy. Jason wrote about growing up in a trailer park.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [z]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [aa]recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:14-16.

My favorite part of Franklin Park is the imagery that life can be like living in a zoo. When individuals aren’t disciplined and are allowed to do whatever they want, this is the kind of environment that emerges. Franklin Park is an unique testimony that speaks to a large audience. May listening to Jason’s song inspired you to write down your own testimony so that God will use you to reach others that no one else can reach.

by Jay Mankus

Recognizing the Limits of Politics

Saul from Tarsus was a member of the Pharisees, a religious zealot, and a Roman citizen. However, even as a religious man, there are politics inside the house of God. Take for example a man named Nicodemus who approached Jesus under the cover of darkness, afraid of what his friends would think, John 3:1-5. Like a high school jock in the hallway, Nick is sarcastic with Jesus, making a joke while responding.

The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch upon the evil and the good, Proverbs 15:3.

When Saul changed his name to Paul following his conversion on the Road to Damascus, politics was used on a few occasions. As a Roman citizen, Paul played this card after being arrested in Philippi, Acts 16:35-39. Meanwhile, when the same Jewish leaders who crucified Jesus wanted to accuse Paul of a similar crime, he appealed to Caesar so he could share his testimony to the government in Rome.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and Yours it is to be exalted as Head over all, 1 Chronicles 29:11.

Paul’s arrest, trial and subsequent death as a martyr illustrates that politics has its limits. While modern day politicians in America are like exclusive members of a private country club, God is still in control whether they like it or not. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, and no one is exempt, even politicians from God’s judgement, Matthew 12:36. Therefore, lean on the Lord and not politics, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 196: Note to Self

Today’s artist comes from a man with a profound mission to make music that gives an immediate emotional impact. Following a jet ski accident as a child which left him deaf in one ear, Stephen Stanley uncovered a remarkable gift for music and melody. Just as the apostle Paul dealt with a messenger from Satan in 2 Corinthians 12:7, this trial propelled Steven to become a Christian musician.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [o]ease and relieve and [p]refresh [q]your souls.] 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([r]relief and ease and refreshment and [s]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls, Matthew 11:28-29.

Note to Self is one of those comments adults make while “thinking out loud.” As you go back in time, you can see where you wavered and what you should do differently in the future. Subsequently, the lyrics of Note to Self are like words of wisdom to prevent repeating the same mistakes of your past. As you listen to Stephen’s song, may his testimony give you hope to move mountains in your own life.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 189: Lead Me

During a five-year stretch, I served on a security team for Christian concerts at Red Lion. The David Crowder Band and the News Boys were the headliners that our church hosted. However, one of the lesser-known bands at who opened for the News Boys was Sanctus Real. While I was busy at my security check point, a friend told me about their testimony shared on stage about battling with stuttering.

 Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

Sanctus Real’s song Lead Me reminds me of a message passed on to a first century preacher. Age shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not lead others. Rather, leadership involves emulating the life, speech and faith of Jesus Christ. The lyrics of Lead Me talk about reflecting upon what’s going on inside of you. Things may look okay externally, but leading starts by being transformed from within.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 166: Love Your Never Dies

Today’s song is great to fall asleep to when you can’t sleep. This isn’t because Your Love Never Dies is boring. Rather, it’s about a child who was mentored by his father who has since passed away. Despite this absence and void in a young man’s life, what Vincent learned has remained deep inside of his heart. This testimony comes in the form of a soothing ballad that was popular in the 1990’s.

Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [d]a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the message which you have heard [the [e]doctrine of salvation through Christ], 1 John 2:6-7.

Love is one of those qualities that you can’t fake. You may try to live a Christian life without love, but you’ll be setting a bad example. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples is blunt about how to distinguish real love from phony Christians. How you conduct yourself and walk illustrates your love for God or lack their of. May Vincent’s Love Never Dies inspire you to emulate the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 17: Feel the Nails

Today’s selection made a powerful impact on my life. I was invited to attend a Lay Witness Mission at a Methodist Church in Friendship, Maryland. My spiritual mentor Ken Horne was in charge of high school and college leadership team. Lay Witness Missions are 3-day revivals to help spiritually rejuvenate a dead or dying church. On this particular weekend, I was asked to share my testimony during the Sunday service.

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation! – Psalm 95:1

One of my best friends from high school had recently died of cancer. Maureen often asked why I was so happy in high school, but I was afraid to tell her about Jesus. In the Ray Boltz song, Feel the Nails, the lyrics talk about playing games. I played this song at the conclusion of my first sermon with a call to action of stop playing games with God. As the congregation heard the chorus to Feel the Nail, people were literally running to the altar. This is what happens when you feel the nails of your past sins.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus, Joy, and Generosity

Before I became a Christian, there were several individuals that I met which stood out to me. I couldn’t figure out what it was about these people, but each of them possessed an inner peace. One winter night during my sophomore year of high school, a man in a wheel chair gave the keynote address to an audience full of athletes. By the time Skip Wilkins reached the conclusion of his testimony, I wanted what he had inside of his heart, Jesus.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

Joy isn’t a feeling that comes and goes. Rather, joy is a state of mind that is fueled by the hope of eternal life, 1 John 5:13. Yet, joy isn’t a recognizable attribute in every Christian. Your degree of commitment to the Lord will affect what spiritual fruit if any that is naturally displayed every day. Yet, free will causes many college students to partake in their own prodigal like experiences. Subsequently, until human beings hit rock bottom or when common sense returns, joy will be absent.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. 14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also, Romans 15:13-14.

The goal of any Christian is to put everything together so that a personal relationship with Jesus yields joy and generosity. The apostle Paul refers to this in the passage above. When anyone reaches this state, an assurance in God spreads hope to your heart. For those that continue their journey with God, joy and peace comes from a spiritual understanding of God’s promises, Philippians 4:6-7. As you draw near to God, may the love of Jesus result in joy and generosity.

by Jay Mankus

Afraid to Tell Her of Your Love

An inciting incident in a screen play is a story that upsets the status quo and begins the story’s movement forward. According to author and story guru John Truby, narrative drive is the forward propulsion of a story. When communicated in the right manner, this serves as a page turner, captivating audiences as viewers want to find out what will happen next. The inciting incident in my own life was the death of a good friend from high school. Since I was afraid to tell her of God’s love while she was battling cancer, her passing created a spirit of conviction within my heart for this to never happen again.

You have heard of my earlier career and former manner of life in the Jewish religion (Judaism), how I persecuted and abused the church of God furiously and extensively, and [with fanatical zeal did my best] to make havoc of it and destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I outstripped many of the men of my own generation among the people of my race in [my advancement in study and observance of the laws of] Judaism, so extremely enthusiastic and zealous I was for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In a letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul writes about his previous life before entering a relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. The first chapter of Galatians serves as a blue print for telling your own personal story about how you came to faith. This outline begins by sharing how you acted, behaved and lived your life prior to making your spiritual decision. The second part is simply when and how you were introduced to God. The final step of a testimony is explaining how your life has been changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. For some of you, this process may still be in it’s infancy. Yet, as time passes, light will expose traces of darkness that still exists within you.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God, 2 Peter 1:7-8.

To ensure that I was not afraid anymore, I sought out accountability groups, Bible Studies and Christian groups on campus to deepen my faith. I set up a duel internship at a Bible Fellowship Church in Ohio to spark my passion for youth ministry. I spent a decade serving as a Bible Teacher at a Christian High School and the last nine years sharing my journey with God by writing daily devotionals at Express Yourself 4 Him. I’d be lying if I haven’t fallen short in the area of fear. Yet, faith is a process of rising and falling, talking steps back and marching forward. My end goal is to no longer be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus so that when an opportunity to share my faith arises. When fear disappears, you will be prepared to give an answer for the faith that you now have, 1 Peter 3:15-16, this Easter Season.

by Jay Mankus

What Would the Bible Say about You?

At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul thanks those who worked quietly behind the scenes. Without these men and women, Paul’s ministry journeys would not have been possible or successful. Beginning with a deaconess and woman who opened her home as a congregational meeting place, Paul wanted to ensure that their contributions were not minimized or overlooked. Unlike the gospels where woman and children are excluded from the overall count of individuals present, Paul places women first on his list.

Now I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God’s people) ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering]. Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:1-4.

In another letter to the church at Galatia, Paul breaks down his entire life into three stages. Galatians 1:11-24 serves as an outline for sharing your faith by detailing your life before knowing Jesus, your conversion experience and transformation since making this decision. While every faith story contains peaks and valleys, portions of your testimony will connect with or touch other souls. One of Jesus’ disciples urges first century Christians to be prepared, always ready to provide the reason for the hope that you have in God, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

[Remember me] also to the church [that meets] in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was a firstfruit (first convert) to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked so hard among you. Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was. Remember me to Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, that one tried and approved in Christ (the Messiah). Remember me to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus, Romans 16:5-10.

As I turn our attention toward today, I’m curious about what modern writers might say. Would you receive a shout out like Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila or be out-shined by other believers? As you go to work, reside in a neighborhood and let your guard down at home, what do people notice? According to my children, I drive too fast, I’m impatient and too opinionated. Are your daily actions full of light or do moments of darkness blur the love of Jesus inside of you? The book of Acts ends abruptly. Some scholars suggest that either the final chapter was never fully completed or simply missing. When judgement day arrives, what will God say about you? Only time will tell so make the most of the days that the Lord gives you.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: