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Tag Archives: Worship

S.A.N.S. Episode 307: O Holy Night

Rush Limbaugh introduced me to Mannheim Steamroller as it was one of his favorite groups to play on his radio show every Christmas season. O Holy Night was one of the Carols my parents church in Ohio would sing annually as part of their midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The service began at 10:30 p.m. with singing the first half hour. Following this time of worship, a tradition Catholic Mass lasted an hour as the final hymn ended right around midnight every year.

Now in the sixth month [after that], the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 To a girl never having been married and a [v]virgin engaged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, Hail, O favored one [[w]endued with grace]! The Lord is with you! [x]Blessed (favored of God) are you before all other women! – Luke 1:26-28.

Before moving to Cleveland, I focused on the commercialism and gifts that I received Christmas morning. Yet, this 90-minute service every Christmas Eve helped turn my attention away from what was waiting for me under a tree at home and toward that holy night more than 2000 years ago. As you listen to today’s feature song O Holy Night, may the lyrics help prepare your heart to make room for Jesus this season and throughout 2023.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 271: Gratitude

Today’s song comes from a worship pastor at Seacoast Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Brandon Lake is also a member of the Bethel Music and the Maverick City Music collective team. Since today’s song falls on the Sabbath, Brandon’s song Gratitude is fitting. Part of any worship service is raising your voice in song as a form as gratitude to God.

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:18-19.

The context of the passage above comes the apostle Paul. Paul’s first impression of Thessalonica wasn’t a good one. Subsequently, Paul felt like this new church needed to focus on the positive aspects in life rather than the negative. As you listen to Gratitude by Brandon Lake, may you be inspired to take the time daily to thank God for all blessings in your life.

by Jay Mankus

The Origin of Turn or Burn

Hell, fire and brimstone sermons were a common occurrence within churches in Europe and the United States during the 18th and 19th centuries. Some of these messages are in connection with the first and second great awakenings. When I grew up in the 1970’s, the church didn’t know how to handle the drugs, sex and rock and roll of the 1960’s. Subsequently, pastors began to respond to this moral decay in 1975 through their own verson of hell, fire and brimstone messages. However, one of the regular expressions I remember as a child was “turn or burn.”

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

This is the origin of turn or burn, scaring the hell out of anyone with a conscience. From my earliest recollections as a child, preachers would give altar calls nearly every week, with frightful teenagers running up front Sunday after Sunday. Fortunately for me, our Catholic Church started holding a special mass for young children in the basement which sheltered me Turn or Burn sermons. When pulpits forget how to share the gospel in a graceful and loving manner, people begin to leave the church which is what started happened in the United States at this time.

He too shall [have to] drink of the wine of God’s indignation and wrath, poured undiluted into the cup of His anger; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no respite (no pause, no intermission, no rest, no peace) day or night—these who pay homage to the beast and to his image and whoever receives the stamp of his name upon him, Revelation 14:10-11.

Last week, I was reminded of this Turn or Burn history within the church after reading the above passage. The context of this verse occurs in the end of days when the Anti-Christ is ushered into power and persuades the world to turn their worship away from God and toward him. Anyone who receives the stamp of the beast (666) on their hand or forehead will be banished to hell for eternity. This is a topic that most churches skip today to keep members of their congregation happy. Yet may today’s blog urge you to repent and make a U-turn back to God so your future fate is secure.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 222: Pursue

From time to time, artists will join together to do a project together or unite for one song. Such is the case with Tayler Doiron and Daniel Garcia. These two artists are part of Vantage Worship, singing Pursue as a duet. The lyrics of Pursue point to Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40. The greatest two commandments is to pursue the love of God and focus on loving your neighbor as yourself.

Shun youthful lusts and flee from them, and aim at and pursue righteousness (all that is virtuous and good, right living, conformity to the will of God in thought, word, and deed); [and aim at and pursue] faith, love, [and] peace (harmony and concord with others) in fellowship with all [Christians], who call upon the Lord out of a pure heart, 2 Timothy 2:22.

Yet, before you can pursue God, Christian’s must learn to overcome temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13. As believers mature by finding the way out of temptation, seeking God first by pursuing righteousness is possible. As you listen to Pursue, may you be inspired to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. May today’s song get you in the mood to worship the Lord on Sunday.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 219: Stand in Your Love

Today’s song comes from another worship leader at Bethel Church in Redding, California. Josh Baldwin polished his skills as the worship leader at MorningStar Fellowship Church after attending their ministry school. The lyrics of Stand In Your Love alludes to the spiritual war mentioned by the apostle Paul. This song begins by addressing darkness which will try to enter your soul.

Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place], Ephesians 6:13.

Apparently, the Church at Ephesus was dealing with their own spiritual war. This ordeal inspired Paul to introduce the armor of God which is how Christian’s win spiritual battles. Rather than give into the dark side of temptation, Josh calls the church to stand in God’s love. May the lyrics of Stand in Your Love urge you to trust in the Lord with all your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

Getting on the Same Page of Unity

The origin of being on the same page is not fully clear. However, it is believed that this expression developed at some point during business meetings with executives. Rather than try to undermine one another, companies function best when leadership teams are on the same page. Churches often develop mission statements so that when questions arise, pastors and elders can get back on the same page as well.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper], Colossians 3:12.

Unfortunately, there has only been one reported church that has sustained unity, Acts 2:42-47. While great awakenings of the18th and 19th centuries breathed new life into churches, unity did not last. According to Luke who served as a first century historian, traveling with Paul on several missionary trips, the early church-maintained unity by eliminating poverty. Rather than take up a weekly offering during a worship service, wealthy Christians sold their own possessions to provide funds for every emergency.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:13-14.

The apostle Paul is blunt about what is necessary before unity can be achieved. This requires grace, love, patience, and selflessness. Apparently, early Christians practiced the words of Philippians 2:1-5 by taking on the attitude of Jesus. When church leaders emulate unity, members of a congregation start to follow. However, when unity is merely a spoken word without any action, getting on the same page of unity remains an unfulfilled goal.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Out of the Closet to Show Others the Way

In the past century, liberals and progressives have taken symbols and terms from the Bible. Rather than highlight the biblical context of being happy and the Old Testament symbolism of a rainbow, new meanings have been ascribed. Perhaps, it’s time to flip the script by coming out of the preverbal closet to honor the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden, Matthew 5:13-14.

When I turn on cable news or search the internet for what’s going on in the world, headlines seem to be turning darker and darker every day. If there was ever a time for the Christian Church to be a City on a Hill and the Light of the World, now is the time. If God is love, sirens of love should be blaring throughout places of worship to show others living in darkness the Way of Jesus.

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 5:15-16.

Unfortunately, many Christians are like high school cliques shining the light and love of Christ at each other. Meanwhile, prodigals and wayward souls continue to walk around in darkness without most churches doing anything to help. If you have similar concerns and thoughts, come out of your spiritual closet to show others the way to the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 160: Missionary

Today’s featured song comes from an old compilation album that I bought in college. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything online about the group Symbiotica. My search discovered an artistic research lab at the University of Western Australia ‘s School of Anatomy and Human Biology, but nothing on a Christian group bearing the same name.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, Separate now for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. Then after fasting and praying, they put their hands on them and sent them away, Acts 13:2-3.

The lead singer sounds like a young Barbra Streisand. The lyrics refer to sacrifices that missionaries make while living abroad. These individuals dedicated to a life of service to the Lord and the people they are trying to reach with the Gospel. This isn’t my typical Sunday post devoted to worship. Rather, Missionary is a relaxing song with a new age tone that celebrates missionaries throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

Developing an Attitude of Praise

Whenever I have a crappy day, human nature takes over. This is when complaining, grumbling, and fault finding takes over. Rather than refocus my thoughts to concentrate on the positive, the blame game commences as I point the finger in every direction except at myself. During my most recent pouting session, God convicted me that I needed to develop an attitude of praise.

Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels on every side of the throne and of the living creatures and the elders [[f]of the heavenly Sanhedrin], and they numbered ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, 12 Saying in a loud voice, Deserving is the Lamb, Who was sacrificed, to receive all the power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and majesty (glory, splendor) and blessing! – Revelation 5:11-12

Whenever I attend a new church, I feel uneasy about clapping and lifting up my hands in worship unless I know the song. I usually lip sync for a while until I learn and understand the beat and words. When some of the worshippers get carried away and caught up in worshipping God, I often think to myself, “what am I missing?” According to John, I don’t have an attitude of praise.

And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth [in Hades, the place of departed spirits] and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)! – Revelation 5:13

Today’s Bible passage provides a glimpse of what an attitude of praise should resemble. The elders sitting in heaven aren’t faking their faith like some may do today. Rather, the residents of heaven are so overwhelmed by the Lamb who was slain on a cross (Jesus), an attitude of praise naturally breaks out. The hard part is developing an attitude of praise outside the church. May this passage challenge you resolve in your heart to develop a biblical attitude of praise.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 146: Speak to Me

It’s not often that a song changes your life, but Kari Jobe’s Speak to Me worship montage transformed my perspective. When I stumbled upon this version on You Tube, I was going through a trying period at work. Due to a series of transitions, my cushy job was being turned upside down. In my despair, the words of Speak to Me became a daily prayer, asking God for comfort and peace.

Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me, John 14:6.

Over the course of a month, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the positive aspects of my life. Like the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8-9, my anxieties and stress were slowly replaced by the excellent and praise worthy things that God has blessed me with over the years. If the timing of this blog finds you going through a similar struggle, may the words of Speak to Me draw you closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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