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S.A.N.S. Episode 343: Welcome Home

There are two passages in the New Testament that speak about welcoming home individuals. The first comes in the form of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. After quickly squandering away his inheritance, a younger son ends up bankrupt, working on a farm, yearning for the slop that he feeds to pigs. When this young man came to his senses, he returned home, replaying in his mind what he was going to say to his father. Upon his return, his father ran and greeted him with the words,” welcome home.”

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

The second account takes place in John 14 as Jesus talks about going on ahead of his disciples to prepare a place for them in heaven. One of Jesus’ disciples who was present for this conversation has a vision in the passage above. Jesus doesn’t force individuals into heaven but offers human beings free will to decide for themselves. This door to heaven only has a handle on our side. When God knocks, only we can let Him in. When we open this door God replies with a similar message, “welcome home.”

by Jay Mankus

When Justice is Celebrated by Heaven

At some point in my lifetime politicians have decided to experiment with law and order. Rather than keep the current judicial system which was established by America’s founding fathers, democrats, liberals, and progressives want to close down prisons throughout this country. In the process, individuals formerly found guilty in court are being released back into society with many not being reformed internally.

How much worse (sterner and heavier) punishment do you suppose he will be judged to deserve who has spurned and [thus] trampled underfoot the Son of God, and who has considered the covenant blood by which he was consecrated common and unhallowed, thus profaning it and insulting and outraging the [Holy] Spirit [Who imparts] grace (the unmerited favor and blessing of God)? 30 For we know Him Who said, Vengeance is Mine [retribution and the meting out of full justice rest with Me]; I will repay [I will exact the compensation], says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge and determine and solve and settle the cause and the cases of His people, Hebrews 10:29-30.

There 93 references in the Bible to the expression “Vengeance Is Mine saith the Lord.” When a topic is mentioned this many times, one can make the assumption that a day will come when God does as He promised. Yet, human nature has a tough time comprehending this concept. Turning the other cheek seems too old fashion to not do something in response in the heat of the moment.

After this I heard what sounded like a mighty shout of a great crowd in heaven, exclaiming, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! Salvation and glory (splendor and majesty) and power (dominion and authority) [belong] to our God! Because His judgments (His condemnation and punishment, His sentences of doom) are true and sound and just and upright. He has judged (convicted, pronounced sentence, and doomed) the great and notorious harlot (idolatress) who corrupted and demoralized and poisoned the earth with her lewdness and adultery (idolatry). And He has avenged (visited on her the penalty for) the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they shouted, Hallelujah (praise the Lord)! The smoke of her [burning] shall continue to ascend forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities), Revelation 19:1-3.

Yet, the disciple whom Jesus loved has a vision of what this day will look like when justice is celebrated by the residents of heaven. According to John, there will do a mighty roar, something that you might hear at a riveting sporting event. However, on this day God fulfills His promise in the Bible by condemning all those who has transgressed against God’s people. Like a guilty verdict in a modern-day court room, law and order will prevail in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Intoxicated Eyes

I was first introduced to the concept of the second glance by the Casting Crowns song Slow Fade. Eve was the first human being to experience this in Genesis 3:4-6. Jesus’ earthly brother compares this lustful look to a fish sizing up the perfectly set bait in James 1:13-15. However, the disciple whom Jesus loved takes this one step further as eyes become intoxicated by specific temporary pleasures on earth.

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. 17 And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever, 1 John 2:15-17.

If you want a more recent example of intoxicated eyes, check out the attached clip from the Chronicles of Narnia. Unaware of the apostle Paul’s warning in 2 Corinthians 11:14, the White Witch appears as an angel in disguise to Edmund. Yet, when you have gone an extended period without indulging your fleshly desires, passion takes over as you do the completely opposite of what you know to be right, Romans 7:15.

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls then came and spoke to me, saying, Come with me! I will show you the doom (sentence, judgment) of the great harlot (idolatress) who is seated on many waters, [She] with whom the rulers of the earth have joined in prostitution (idolatry) and with the wine of whose immorality (idolatry) the inhabitants of the earth have become intoxicated, Revelation 17:1-2.

The last mention of intoxicated eyes occurs in the Book of Revelation. Building upon the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:18-21, John has a vision of inhabitants of the earth drunk on sexual immorality. John appears to be referring to a demon who he compares to the great harlot. Whatever this being or individual represents, when you let yourself go, drifting away from God, you become vulnerable to intoxicated eyes. May this blog serve as a warning to put to death these desires, Colossians 3:5, before enticement and lust drag you down all over again.

by Jay Mankus

The Shaft to the Abyss

Half of the Gospel of John is devoted to the events of Passion Week: Jesus’ final week on earth. In the passage below, Jesus drops a hint about Good Friday and Easter Sunday. A first century doctor either interviewed Jesus following his resurrection or had a vision of Jesus’ trip to Hades, Acts 2:31. Paul devotes 1 Corinthians 15 to explaining the significance of Jesus conquering death via his resurrection.

In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes). If it were not so, I would have told you; for I am going away to prepare a place for you. And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way, John 14:2-4.

Jesus doesn’t explain how He was able to visit the Abyss which John uses to describe hell. Yet, during one vision, John sees a shaft open up momentarily to unveil this bottomless pit. As soon as the fifth angel in heaven blew his trumpet, the shaft to the Abyss opened to reveal a glimpse of hell. Out of this shaft came a plume of smoke like a modern-day industrial plant polluting the sky above.

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft, Revelation 9:1-2.

Hell is one of those topics which rarely comes up at a funeral. To avoid depressing family and friends, heaven is brought up to bring comfort to those in audience. Yet, when you consider Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14, few people follow the less traveled road. Therefore, may this blog cause you to consider the shaft of the Abyss. May the fear of death scare people straight toward eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

An Eagle’s Perspective on Life

As someone who grew up 30 minutes from South Philadelphia, whenever an eagle is brought up, I immediately think of the National Football League franchise “the Philadelphia Eagles.” Meanwhile, the bald eagle became the iconic emblem of the United States on June 20th, 1782. While the eagle represents freedom in America, the Bible provides an eagle’s perspective on life.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:30-31.

Prior to the invention of drones, eagles would provide a bird’s eye of the earth. One Old Testament prophet compares the Lord to a mature eagle. Although young Christians become exhausted, tired and weak, the power of the Holy Spirit will rise you up by renewing your strength. The above passage serves as a promise from God whenever you feel like you don’t have the energy to take another step in life.

Then I [looked and I] saw a solitary eagle flying in midheaven, and as it flew I heard it crying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the rest of the trumpet blasts which the three angels are about to sound! – Revelation 8:13

Yet, the title of today’s blog comes from a vision from John the Revelator. Following the 4th of seven tribulations in the book of Revelation, John sees an eagle flying solo. After scanning the devastation from the first 4 tribulations, this eagle cries out in a loud voice. Like a news video after a natural disaster, this eagle’s perspective on life serves as a cautionary tale of the troubling times ahead in the end of days.

by Jay Mankus

It’s as Hot as Hell Out There

In my first summer as a South Carolina resident, I have endured a drought in June and severe thunderstorms in July. However, as August is about to begin, temperatures are expected to reach triple digits. When you add in the extreme humidity, some may suggest “it’s as hot as hell outside.” This idiom comes from an ancient proverb comparing the Bible’s description of hell with hot summer days.

Then He will say to those at His left hand, Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! – Matthew 25:41

One chapter in the Gospels is devoted to what heaven will be like, Matthew 25. Yet, on the other side of heaven is hell. Jesus describes hell as a place of eternal punishment for those who were kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12. This cursed destination is unlike any summer heatwave on earth. Like an active volcano, there is a river of fire which is filled with brimstone and Sulphur.

Then the fifth angel blew [his] trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth; and to the angel was given the key [a]of the shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit). He opened the [b]long shaft of the Abyss (the bottomless pit), and smoke like the smoke of a huge furnace puffed out of the [c]long shaft, so that the sun and the atmosphere were darkened by the smoke from the long shaft, Revelation 9:1-2.

One of Jesus’ former disciples has a vision of what hell will be like. While looking through a shaft, John sees a bottomless pit. Based upon the description in the passage above, hell is like working in an old coal mine except you can’t leave. As for now, heatwaves will continue until September. While it’s never a pleasant experience to be drenched in sweat, make the best of summer until the cool winds of fall arrive.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Optimistic While Living in a Woke Culture

As I try to keep up to date with current events, I often find myself shaking my head pondering, “how did we get here?” Gender identity, pronouns and progressive ideology have replaced traditional Judeo-Christian values as the social norm. Since watching cable news makes me depressed, I’m trying to stay optimistic while living in a woke culture.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

The apostle Paul provided similar advice to a teenage pastor in the first century. Paul was trying to prepare this spiritual leader for potential scenarios that might pop up from time to time. Whether through a vision of the future or divine insight, Paul warns of a time when human nature will influence society. When people wander away from the truth, the climate for a woke culture is made possible.

As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry, 2 Timothy 4:5.

When you combine the passage above with Philippians 4:8-9, the best advice is to stay positive. Rather than react immediately to calls for you to be cancelled, stay calm, cool and collective. Additionally, take on the mindset of Jesus’ disciples, 1 Peter 3:17. As Christians mature by becoming willing to suffer for doing what’s right and true, you’ll stay optimistic while living in a woke culture.

by Jay Mankus

A Bad Day for Lawn Care

When I lost my teaching position more than a decade ago, friends from church offered me a position for a season. From March to October, I served as an assistant superintendent at the Middletown Veterinarian Hospital and Horse Farm. In other words, I cut grass, weed wacked and provided daily maintenance for two different properties. Similar to my college internship instead of working on a golf course.

The [a]grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever, Isaiah 40:8.

One of the first to comment on lawn care in the Bible is an Old Testament prophet. Isaiah speaks of the seasonal aspect of grass. At some point in a year, grass will wither, and flowers fade. From my own experience working for a local land and hard scaping company, winter months are often spent doing snow removal to help pay for monthly bills like insurance.

The first angel blew [his] trumpet, and there was a storm of hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon the earth. And a third part of the earth was burned up and a third of the trees was burned up and all the green grass was burned up, Revelation 8:7.

Whenever I read the Bible, I usually learn something new daily. Earlier this week, I continued my study of the final book in the Bible. According to John, there will be a great hailstorm mixed with fire in the last days. John’s vision includes the aftermath of this storm. When the dust settles, all of the green grass on earth will be burned up. This will be a bad day for the lawn care, signaling the end of this business.

by Jay Mankus

Black and Blue

Like any good movie, an audience will speculate in their minds how this story is going to end. Such is the case of Jesus who was sitting on the Mount of Olives when his disciples privately approached. Following a prophetic message about future events, the disciples wanted to know about what signs they should be carefully watching for or expecting. The remainder of Matthew 24 is a glimpse of future events.

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened or troubled, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in place after place; All this is but the beginning [the early pains] of the [c]birth pangs [of the [d]intolerable anguish], Matthew 24:6-8.

While on the Island of Patmos, one of the oldest disciples receives another vision of the future in the passage below. One current event to closely watch for is a rise in deaths throughout the world. According to a 2017 study, on any given day, nearly 100,000 people die of natural causes across the globe. According to John, when death rates increase due to murder, famine, plagues like the Coronavirus, and animal attacks, the arrival of the 4th seal in the Book of Revelation is at hand.

So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [[a]black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth, Revelation 6:8.

Black and blue is often associated with bruising that occurs after an accident, fall or contact with another object. Due to the regeneration process, young people tend to heal quicker as bruises vanish over a short period of time. Yet, the older human beings get, bruises may not go over, sticking around for months. According to John, this black and blue colored horse is symbolic of death. When unnatural death rates increase dramatically, this future period of time could mark the beginning of the 4th seal in Revelation.

by Jay Mankus

Hear, Listen, and Heed God’s Voice

Depending upon how well you sleep the night before and how you’re feeling when you get up, your mental alertness varies. If you wake up in a fog, you’ll overlook the obvious signs of God’s presence. Meanwhile, your ability to hear will be impaired until your body fully wakes up. On the other hand, if you’re well rested and possess a sound mind, hearing, listening and heeding God’s voice is possible.

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.

Anyone who has ever battled depression for an extended period of time, turns their attention to within. This fragile state of mind causes me to block out what’s going on around me. My main concern is dwelling on my pathetic state, seeking a pity party from others I come in contact with. Subsequently, you may end up like Elijah who isn’t hungry and would rather sleep, hoping his situation improves in the morning.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

According to a vision received by John, God will try to get your attention. John uses the analogy of God knocking on a door, perhaps the door to your heart. If you’re sober, you’ll have a better chance of listening, seeing, and sensing the presence of God. Yet, John suggests hearing and listening is just step 1 and step 2 of this process. The final call is heeding the advice God gives you. Ready, set and engage God.

by Jay Mankus

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