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S.A.N.S. Episode 99: We Won’t Shaken

Today’s song comes from one of my former bosses favorite groups. When I lost my teaching job back in 2012, the Bestes hired me part time for eight months to help maintain their Animal Hospital. When a tornado ripped through a portion of their horse farm, the normal groundskeeper was busy removing trees. Subsequently, I was able to survive until I reinvented myself a year later at Amazon.

 But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. 27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! – Acts 16:25-28

Building 429 was one of the groups that I listened to while I was cutting grass. I purchased a couples of their albums while I worked at the Animal Hospital. On my last day, I bought the Bestes the newest Building 429 album at the time along with a thank you card. We Won’t Be Shaken reminds me of a true story from the first century. Following an earthquake in the middle of a worship service, those in attendance were not shaken.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 98: The Sound

Today’s song comes from another bargain bin, forgotten and rejected by conservative Christian radio stations. Forever Seems Forever from Pompano Beach, Florida, formed in 1998 as a band that combines classic rock with a modern flavor. Using my theory that groups with an interesting album cover often produces quality music was once again correct with four quality tunes highlighted by the Sound.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

In the passage above, Elijah is depressed after receiving death threats from Queen Jezebel. Like anyone struggling with depression, Elijah withdrew from people and stopped eating. This is the context where God sends a tornado, earthquake, and fire as Elijah observes from a distance. As each natural disaster is followed by another, this sound gets Elijah’s attention so he’s alert when God’s whispers to him. I hope you enjoy the Sound.

by Jay Mankus

A Wind From Elsewhere

Residents of southern California have dealt with smog for more than 50 years. When a new kindergarten teacher moved to Los Angeles in 1953, there were no San Gabriel Mountains that Lee Begovich could see according to a 2019 Washington Post article. Choked with low visibility, Begovich referred to conditions in Los Angeles as eye-burning, lung-stinging, and headache-inducing smog. A commission appointed to address smog back in the 1970’s came to the conclusion that their only short term solution was dependent upon mother nature. The hope was that a wind from elsewhere would drive this smog into the Pacific Ocean.

What is born of [from] the flesh is flesh [of the physical is physical]; and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not [do not be surprised, astonished] at My telling you, You must all be born anew (from above), John 3:6-7.

The passage above dates back to a first century conversion between Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus. Afraid of what his peers might think, Nicodemus meets Jesus under the cover of darkness at night. The concept of a Holy Ghost intrigued Nick, wanting to know more on this topic. Whether trying to be sarcastic or simply attempting the break the ice, Nick makes fun of becoming born again. The context above is Jesus’ reply, eluding to a wind from above that has the power to transform your life. Despite being a well educated religious leader, Nick was unable to fathom this concept. Nick’s uncertainty sets the stage for John 3:16-17.

The wind blows (breathes) where it wills; and though you hear its sound, yet you neither know where it comes from nor where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered by asking, How can all this be possible? – John 3:8-9

Unless you see a rain cloud unleash water in the distance or witness a tornado defined by it’s debris path, wind is invisible. While you can feel a cold breeze or be blown off your feet by down drafts and wind gusts, the wind is unpredictable. Sure. modern day radar and technology can trace the movements of weather systems, the wind blows where it wills. According the Jesus, the Holy Spirit is just as mysterious. In a letter to the church in Galatia, the Holy Spirit is described as a force that you can stay in tune with, Galatians 5:25. However, if anyone is distracted by fleshly desires, spiritual senses can be lost. Perhaps, this is why Jesus introduces John 3:16 to provide the lost with a glimmer of hope.

by Jay Mankus

When Your World Has Been Shaken

Some reporters have compared the Coronavirus to the millennials 9/11. Since my youngest two children were born after September 11th, 2001, I understand this comparison. For me, I remember exactly where I was when I first received news of two airplanes crashing into the Twin Towers. At this time in history, I was an independent contractor and regional staff writer for Travel Golf Media. Both of my positions were impacted as air travel ceased until new safety standards were implemented. Yet, as the Coronavirus continues to reap havoc throughout America, life as we know it has been disturbed and shaken.

There he came to a cave and lodged in it; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and He said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? 10 He replied, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken Your covenant, thrown down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I, I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away, 1 Kings 19:9-10.

The Old Testament details a story about a prophet whose own world had been shaken. According to the passage above, the Israelites had turned their back on God, turning a deaf ear to Elijah. Beside feeling useless, altars dedicated to the Lord were discarded from mountain tops. In addition, Elijah’s friends were all killed at the hands of Jezebel. Without any signs of improvement, this former spiritual leader had lost the will to live, giving up hope that God could alter his situation. As a way to get Elijah’s attention, a series of natural disasters struck the land. Taking notice, Elijah did not see the Lord as the source behind the tornado, earthquake and fire. Yet, after these storms, Elijah was ready to hear God’s still small voice.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

Well, if you live in a state like Delaware, you are now under a stay at home order. Normal outdoor sports are now out of the equation, on hold until the Coronavirus fades or dies out. Sure, you can go to the grocery store, get gas and take a walk around the block, but that’s it. So… what is one to do with their life when your world has been shaken? Well, after you binge watch your favorite show or series, dusting off the Bible would be a step in the right direction. The great aspect of free will is that God doesn’t force you to anything. The choices that you make throughout life will shape who you become. May this forced time at home due to the Coronavirus draw you near to God as the world around us continues to be shaken.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed to Be Alive

The half-century mark is five decades on this special planet called earth.  As the clock strikes twelve midnight, ending August 13th to commence August 14th will mean that I have reached fifty years of age in 2019.  According to numerology, the number fifty symbolizes the total man.  This favorable number marks grace, kindness and regeneration. Karl von Eckartshausen, an author, German Catholic and philosopher, who lived to see the founding of the United States of America referred to reaching fifty as the number of illumination.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations,” Jeremiah 1:5.

I was born the day Hurricane Camille formed as a tropical depression.  A few days later this massive storm struck the Gulf Coast, the second most intense tropical cyclone on record to hit the United States.  Perhaps, this was a foreshadowing of the life that I would live.  I have survived earthquakes, floods, a microburst and a tornado.  I escaped a head on collision, a freak boating and tubing accident to make it to what I call Hawaii 50.  Nonetheless, I have a lot to be thankful for, truly blessed to be alive.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them, Psalm 139:13-16.

My spiritual birth occurred on December 4th, 1984, during my sophomore year of high school.  My spiritual father was my high school swim coach and Science teacher.  As the leader of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Concord High, Mr. Horne coached, directed and guided new believers toward seeking God’s will for our lives.  While I didn’t always take a straight line or path, the Holy Spirit empowered me to become a Bible teacher, youth director an aspiring writer.  I’m truly blessed to be married to Leanne who gave birth to our 3 wonderful children.  I’m not sure what the Lord has planned for me in the years to come, but I pray that I keep in step with God’s Spirit so that I don’t miss my next calling.

by Jay Mankus

Trying to Find a New Normal

Every day that you wake up brings its own blessings and curses.  You never know what to expect as uncertainty lurks around each corner.  Subsequently, one day Job lost his farm animals in a series of unexplainable events.  Before this day ended, his children were all killed by a tornado.  In response to this tragic news, Job makes a statement which still applies today, “the Lord gives and takes away.”

And said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.   The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised,” Job 1:21.

When the grieving process comes to an end, individuals need to find a new normal.  Prior to August of this year, life was a lot less complicated.  However, now that my youngest son has been diagnosed with type one diabetes, every meal is like taking a math quiz to determine the total number of carbs.  Despite this recent trial, I can’t overlook all the blessings God has provided.  So when the Lord does begin to take some things away, don’t forget to praise and thank Him for the blessings in disguise.

His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said, Job 2:9-10.

When illness attacked Job’s body, his faith was once again put to the test.  At some point in his health scare, Job’s wife lost it, becoming angry and bitter at God.  Despite her advice, Job stood strong, accepting the trial God allowed to occur.  To make matters worse, 3 friends suggested some sort of hidden sin had brought God’s wrath upon Job and his family.  Nonetheless, over time Job found a new normal, remained faithful to the Lord and was rewarded with new children and possessions to replace that which was lost.

by Jay Mankus

A Sixth Sense

Prior to 1999, the sense of taste, touch, sight, smell and feel were the major focus of scientists.  However, following the release of the Sixth Sense featuring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, elements of the supernatural have come to light.  Child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crow, played by Willis, fails to help a patient, discounting the voices he heard.  Thus, when he is hired to help Cole Sear, played by Joel, each discover the reality of a sixth sense.

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake, 1 Kings 19:11.

The prophet Elijah is one of the first to uncover a spiritual sixth sense.  Following an encounter with an angel, Elijah goes up on a mountainside waiting to hear a message God.  Like a science experiment, the Lord sends a series of natural phenomena: earthquake, wild fire and tornado.  Forced to sort through these events, Elijah came to the conclusion that God was not behind these three natural disasters.  Using discernment, Elijah waits patiently, eventually being rewarded by hearing God’s whisper.

After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, 1 Kings 19:12.

While I do not consider myself to be a prophet, I can relate to Cole from a spiritual sense.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I read the Bible, enlightened by a new truth that is revealed.  Occasionally, I may have a dream, vision or sense things either during or after praying.  Yet, the moment I unplug from the Bible, prayer and worship, my sense of discernment disappears.  Therefore, if you want to draw near to God, stay connected to the vine, John 15:5 and you too will discover a spiritual sixth sense.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Real Mr. Heat and Freeze Miser

He spreads the snow like wool and scatters the frost like ashes, Psalm 147:16.

Prior to the theory of Global Warming, a motion animated television special provided its own belief.   Phyllis McGinley’s 1956 book inspired the Christmas Classic The Year Without a Santa Claus, airing in December of 1974.  While this animation put a unique twist on Christmas, the two characters which stole the spotlight were Mr. Heat and Mr. Freeze Miser.  After Mrs. Claus appeals to Mother Nature, the Miser’s mom, a compromise is struck to allow a warm weather climate to experience snow so that the Spirit of Christmas is saved.

He hurls down his hail like pebbles. Who can withstand his icy blast? – Psalm 147:17

Today, weather has its own syndrome known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Thus, its no wonder Weber comes out with the a new commercial each Spring, enticing people to take advantage of warm weather by grilling.  In fact, many people are never satisfied complaining that its too hot, too cold or not good enough to complete their plans for the weekend.  In the end, Mother Nature get’s most of the credit in an ever increasing political correct world for nice days.  Meanwhile, the moment disaster strikes in the form of a flood, hurricane or tornado, God is usually the first to be blamed.

He sends his word and melts them; he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow, Psalm 147:18

According to the Psalmist, God has been in control of the weather since the beginning of Creation.  Although each season may not come when the calendar expects, the Lord will alter the Jet Streams like Mr. Heat Miser and Freeze Miser to warm up or cool down the earth in His time.  While scientists will continue to spend massive amounts of time and money to attempt to explain the weather, there is only One perfect weather man who seems to enjoy confusing the experts daily.

by Jay Mankus

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