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The Evidence

After finishing my final exam in college, I was on my way to see a friend play in a tennis tournament. As the light that I was stuck at turned green, I proceeded to enter this intersection when the front on my car was hit by a vehicle running a red light. After getting out of our cars, this man immediately apologized. When the cops didn’t arrive for a while, I told a student eyewitness to go home. As soon as a police officer arrived, this man changed his entire story. The evidence of the skid marks was clearly in my favor, but to the judge I was a college student and the man who hit me was an outstanding citizen.

He who believes in the Son of God [who adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] has the testimony [possesses this divine attestation] within himself. He who does not believe God [in this way] has made Him out to be and represented Him as a liar, because he has not believed (put his faith in, adhered to, and relied on) the evidence (the testimony) that God has borne regarding His Son. 11 And this is that testimony (that evidence): God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son, 1 John 5:10-11.

On earth, every day someone gets away with a crime, lie, or sinful act. You may be able to fool friends, family, or your peers for a period of time before the evidence is revealed. When light exposes your actions, behavior and choices, you may become like the man who hit me in college, changing his story when the police show up. This painful experience of injustice served as a wake up call to me as a naive Christian. While right doesn’t always prevail initially, the evidence of an afterlife are written with conviction in the Bible.

In the former account [which I prepared], O Theophilus, I made [a continuous report] dealing with all the things which Jesus began to do and to teach Until the day when He ascended, after He through the Holy Spirit had instructed and commanded the apostles (special messengers) whom He had chosen. To them also He showed Himself alive after His passion (His suffering in the garden and on the cross) by [a series of] many convincing demonstrations [unquestionable evidences and infallible proofs], appearing to them during forty days and talking [to them] about the things of the kingdom of God, Acts 1:1-3.

Luke spoke to individuals who witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ former disciples tells his audience that you can know for sure about your eternal destiny, 1 John 5:12-13. John isn’t wishy washy like a skeptical individual watching an infomercial that sounds too good to be true. Rather John writes as if he just listened to a Tony Robbins motivational podcast, eager to tell others about securing a room in heaven. The Bible is full of evidence, nuggets of truth that will help you find your way home like the bread crumbs Hansel and Gretel left behind to follow when they needed it.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 80: The Words I Would Say

As a writer, the Sidewalk Prophets and I think along the same lines. While I was teaching High School Bible at Red Lion, The Words I Would Say became a big hit. Like the lyrics to this song, this was my daily prayer for my teenager students. My goal was to try to make the Bible cool and relative in an age where skeptics believed that God was dead. One of the reasons I got into teaching was to help my students avoid the same mistakes that I made when I was a teenager.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it, Ephesians 4:29.

Finding hope in a world that is falling apart is a hard sell. Yet, when you make a decision to be a source of encouragement, spiritual progress is possible. Dreaming and setting goals in life provide a glimpse of what may be attainable with God on your side. You don’t have to become a member of a band to be a sidewalk prophet. Rather, you need to be plugged into God’s living and active Word, Hebrews 4:12, so that when God puts something on your heart, you’re willing to be a messenger and voice for Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 73: Under the Ruins

Heavy metal music was conceived in the late 1960’s and became popular in Great Britain in the early 70’s. By the middle of the 1980’s, heavy metal was accepted and embraced by North America. When I needed a beat a little harder than rock, I turned to metal to raise my level of intensity.  One of the Christian metal groups that I discovered in college was Xalt.

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.

Xalt relies on a classic metal sound with lyrics straight out of the Bible. On their Under the Ruins album, Xalt warns its listeners of the Devil and his attempt to steal, kill, and destroy souls, John 10:10. In today’s featured song Under the Ruins, the group exposes the schemes of the Devil, Ephesians 6:11-12. If you don’t take this advice seriously, you might find yourself feeling defeated; left under the ruins of despair.

by Jay Mankus

When the Bible is Difficult to Understand

When students get stumped in class as a new chapter or concept is introduced, there is a teacher to ask to help you figure it out. Yet, when you open up the Bible and come across a confusing section, unless you’re at a Bible Study, you are on your own. If one of Jesus’ own disciples mentioned that some of the apostle Paul’s epistles are difficult to understand, you will definitely need a mediator to properly interpret the Bible. This is where you need to reach out to and lean on the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts.

Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own [g]utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures, 2 Peter 3:16.

One of the common mistake’s readers of the Bible make is to treat this like a regular book. Human wisdom will only take you so far. And besides, one New Testament author refers to the Bible as a spiritual book that is living and active, Hebrews 4:12. When the Bible is difficult to understand, you need to learn to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. According to Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, the Holy Spirit provides everything that you need for life.

And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]. 14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14.

The apostle Paul had several encounters with Greek philosophers during a visit to Athens in Acts 17:16-32. While Paul was able to convince some of these scholars, many of them relied on human knowledge. This is the context of the passage above where Paul urges Corinthians to go beyond education. When the Bible is too difficult to understand, only the Holy Spirit will open your mind to the spiritual truths that lie within. Though you won’t have all of your questions answered like Job, you will grow in the knowledge of God’s character and nature.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 65: Another Alternative

Today’s feature song comes from the former lead singer of Sonic Flood. I met Jeff Deyo while I was a youth pastor in Columbus, Indiana which is Jeff’s hometown. Jeff’s story is similar to what happened to Tom Petty. The film Straight Outta Compton illustrates the fact that agents, producers and record labels use new artists to make themselves wealthy. Meanwhile, talented musicians like Jeff Deyo and Tom Petty barely make anything despite releasing top selling albums.

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 10:10.

Jeff left Sonic Flood to partner with his wife to make a living as a musician. While I haven’t spoken with Jeff for more than two decades, it’s sad how many talented musicians aren’t able to make a career out of doing what they love. Deyo’s album Another Alternative and song with the same name combines dance, hip hop and rap. As the world continues to evolve, the Bible provides instructions of how to live an alternative life fueled by faith. May today’s song and this album touch your heart and stir your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Blots and Blemishes

In this age of wokeness, every word you say is policed by social media. Various sites have now hired truth detectors to determine right from wrong, fact from fiction, and the truth from lies. While talking about sinful behaviors, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to blots and blemishes. Like a bad grease stain on a brand-new shirt, this careless error in judgment can ruin an article of clothing. Yet, the Bible is more concerned about what’s going on deep inside of you before it’s too late to change.

Being destined to receive [punishment as] the reward of [their] unrighteousness [suffering wrong as the hire for their wrongdoing]. They count it a delight to revel in the daytime [living luxuriously and delicately]. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their [a]deceptions and carousing together [even] as they feast with you, 2 Peter 2:14.

The context of the passage above is to prepare Christians for Jesus’ second coming detailed in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. Several first century writers use fear to address personal blots and blemishes. The apostle Paul and Peter both use similar methods to warn Christians of falling back into the sinful ways of their past prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you can develop the mindset that Jesus is coming back today, you’ll be less likely give into temptation that lie in wait for you daily.

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

One of the biggest issues of overcoming the blots and blemishes of your past is learning to forgive yourself. Meanwhile, ungodly beliefs that you have picked up over the course of your life will make you feel less worthy of God’s mercy. When you add these factors to prodigals who have lost the ability to think rationally, common sense is asleep until you hit rock bottom. When Jesus’ earthly brother refused to believe his own sibling was the Messiah, he believes it’s never too late for confession so that God’s sanctifying grace will take care of your future blots and blemishes, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

The Lust of Polluting Passions

The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines pollution as any emissions which are or could be harmful to people. Certain states set their environmental standards based upon EPA recommendations. Meanwhile, the Bible defines pollution as any form of darkness, Matthew 6:22-23, that seeks to diminish the light of Christ. One of Jesus’ disciples refers to one specific spiritual pollutant: the lust of earthly passions.

And particularly those who walk after the flesh and indulge in the lust of polluting passion and scorn and despise authority. Presumptuous [and] daring [self-willed and self-loving creatures]! They scoff at and revile dignitaries (glorious ones) without trembling, 2 Peter 2:10.

Peter appears to be referencing the Sermon on the Mount in the passage above. Jesus spoke about Christians being the light of the World in Matthew 5:14-16. One chapter later, Jesus compares human eyes to the spiritual lamp of your body, Matthew 6:22-23. If your eyes become unhealthy, the lust of polluting passions will fill your life with darkness. The apostle Paul compares this spiritual pollution to uniting yourself with someone during a one-night stand, 1 Corinthians 6:15-16.

For this reason God gave them over and abandoned them to vile affections and degrading passions. For their women exchanged their natural function for an unnatural and abnormal one, 27 And the men also turned from natural relations with women and were set ablaze (burning out, consumed) with lust for one another—men committing shameful acts with men and suffering in their own [d]bodies and personalities the inevitable consequences and penalty of their wrong-doing and going astray, which was [their] fitting retribution, Romans 1:26-27.

When people stop caring about God, these individuals will begin to feed their flesh daily. Like a drug addict searching for a more powerful substance to satisfy their desire to achieve a new high, sexual addictions set ablaze the lust of polluting passions. In the passage above, the apostle Paul reveals the origin of unwholesome desires. When natural affection is corrupted by the lust of polluting passions, spiritual lives become unfit for faith. Hebrews 6:4-6 compares this lifestyle to someone who crucifies Jesus over and over again. May the Bible serve as a form of detox to set you free from lust.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 38: Go and Sin No More

Back in the 1980’s, the Christian bookstores that I shopped at had a series of items positioned on the counter. The impulse buyer in me was a sucker for music samplers, individual songs from new albums that were set to be released sometime in the year. As I went through my closest this winter to prepare to move this summer, I was astonished by all the sampler CD’s that I have accumulated. Yet, if it wasn’t for these CD’s, I might not have heard of the group Liaison.

When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? 11 She answered, No one, Lord! And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more, John 8:10-11.

Go and Sin No More was one of the featured songs that introduced me to Liaison. While in college, a special radio program on Saturday night highlighted new and unknown Christian rock bands. As for today’s featured song, it comes right out of the Bible as Jesus addresses a woman who was spared from being stoned to death. Instead of falling into bad habits of your past life, Jesus leaves this woman with a simple message: go and sin no more. I hope you enjoy this classic ballad.

by Jay Mankus

Cordial and Gracious

In this age of Cancel Culture and Wokeness, cordial and grace has gone AWOL, absent without leave. Instead, there is a tenseness driven by hatred and revenge. Political correctness has divided communities, neighborhoods, and occupations like truckers. Rather than exercise common sense, a spirit of pettiness is motivating human beings to ruin anyone who doesn’t agree with their progressive and secular worldview.

Practice hospitality to one another (those of the household of faith). [Be hospitable, be a lover of strangers, with brotherly affection for the unknown guests, the foreigners, the poor, and all others who come your way who are of Christ’s body.] And [in each instance] do it ungrudgingly (cordially and graciously, without complaining but as representing Him), 1 Peter 4:9.

When I was growing up, my parents forced me to join the Boy Scouts. This is what parents were supposed to do back in the day to help their boys become prepared and well-rounded. While my heart was never into Scouts, I did learn valuable life skills as I completed merit badges and increased my rank to Star before focusing on high school sports. Despite not earning the highest honor, I can say that I am more cordial and gracious due to my time in this organization.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[l]against God] and [m]questioning and doubting [among yourselves], 15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Philippians 2:14-15.

The Bible provides its own version of Scouting. Rather than memorizing the Boy Scouts motto to complete the requirements for a merit badge, the Bible is an instructional manual for life. In the passage above, the apostle Paul provides directions on how to become a spiritual star in your community. Using principles from books like Bring Out the Best in People and How to Win Friends and Influence People, Paul calls Christians to emulate Christ, Ephesians 5:1-9. Anyone who strives to live as children of the light will become more cordial and gracious as they mature and draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

When Prayers Get God’s Attention

Listening is one of those traits that requires more than just one of your senses. Yet, if the person who approaches you has a habit of rambling on and on, it won’t be long until you tune them out. Perhaps, this is the point Jesus is trying to make during his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-7. If you want your prayers to get God’s attention, find a private location and start pouring your heart out to the Lord.

For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil [to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them], 1 Peter 3:12.

If you read the Bible long enough one thing is clear, you can’t fool God. Sure, you may skirt the initial consequences of telling a lie, but what comes around goes around, Galatians 6:6-7. If you reap what you sow, a lame prayer life is only going to get you minimal results. The secret to getting God’s attention when you pray can be found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Obedience is the first step toward righteousness.

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.

When the basics like following the Ten Commandments become a daily goal, spiritual hunger is what takes prayer to the next level. Are you willing to embarrass yourself in public like the harlot who washed Jesus’ feet with an expensive bottle of perfume in Luke 7:37-39? When this type of passion is displayed, doubt starts to disappear as the mountains you once thought were immovable begin to fall. As you move in this direction spiritually, your prayers will get God’s attention. Use today’s song as a daily prayer to get started in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

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