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S.A.N.S. Episode 329: First Things First

Sometimes when I hear a new group on You Tube, I’m not sure if the name of their song is the group’s name or vice versa. Such is the case of First Things First which was recently released by the group Consumed by Fire. Upon listening to this song, I was reminded of the passage above. The author of Hebrews begins chapter 6 with a message to those who have become lukewarm. Anytime a believer begins to slip away from God, consumed by conviction tends to be a common way to be brought back to God.

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.

The lyrics of First Things First is based upon Matthew 6:33-34. This portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount reinforces the beatitudes with an emphasis on hungering and thirsting for righteousness. Unfortunately, there are so many distractions in this life with other things in the world take our attention off of Jesus. As 2023 is about to start, may Consumed by Fire’s version of First Things First inspired you to make Jesus a priority in your life in the coming year.

by Jay Mankus


S.A.N.S. Episode 302: Glory (Let There Be Peace)

While I don’t agree with most of the political stances that You Tube takes in the United States, this internet platform has become beneficials for songwriters and worship leaders across this country and throughout the world. Today’s song comes from Matt Maher who is from Newfoundland, Canada. A few years ago, Matt’s song Glory (Let There Be Peace) was selected as one of the top hundred Christmas worship songs.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you,] John 16:33.

The context of the passage above is shared by Jesus with the disciples in private during Passion Week. As Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for his ultimate sacrifice, the purpose of this act was to bring peace to the earth. Not peace in a political sense between nation. Rather the peace Jesus introduces is a spiritual peace brought forth by fulfilling God’s will for His life. May the words of Glory (Let There Be Peace) help you make room in your heart for Jesus this Christmas Season.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 295: It’s All About You

A few years ago, I was tired of listening to the same music at work. During a series of searches on You Tube, I came across three different electronic Christian music mixes. While I haven’t found any new ones since, I have come to embrace electronic techno and worship montages. Over the next few days, I will be sharing a couple of my favorites. It’s All About You by Marshall Marshall is one of the catchy tunes that I think you might enjoy.

Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own, Philippians 3:12.

After listening to the lyrics of It’s All About You, I immediately thought of the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. When a Christian comes to the conclusion that it’s all about the Lord, you are making a conscious decision to make Jesus the Lord of your life. Once you discover God’s will for your life, you can turn your attention to Paul’s call in this passage. Take hold of what God has called you to do by yielding your life over to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 116: All Around Me

When you listen to music sites like You Tube, there are algorithms that continue to play music based upon your initial request. If your first request is a Christian artist, this doesn’t guarantee that Christian music will continue to play. This is how I stumbled upon the group Flyleaf which is a rock band that formed in Belton, Texas, back in 2002 with Lacey Sturm as lead vocalist. 

By this you may know (perceive and recognize) the Spirit of God: every spirit which acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [actually] has become man and has come in the flesh is of God [has God for its source]; 1 John 4:2.

Flyleaf is one of those secular bands that features lyrics with biblical themes beneath the surface. While All Around Me doesn’t refer to anything spiritual, there are many days where people feel trouble all around them. When I recently listened to this song, the passage above came to my mind. As trials surface in your life, who do you turn to? If you’re not sure, turn to Jesus so you’re not overwhelmed by fear.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 112: I Can’t Quit

Today’s featured song comes from a group that I discovered on You Tube. While listening to a mix of Christian dance songs from various artists, Capital Kings kicked off this collection. I debated between “the Paradigm” and “I Can’t Quit.” While both songs have an exceptional beat and sound, I Can’t Quit contains more inspirational lyrics that most people can relate to in a world filled with defeat.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul addresses this topic. Human nature has a way of weakening downtrodden souls to lose heart. When you heart isn’t into what you are doing, minds tune out which results in the act of quitting. Whatever circumstance or situation that you are currently facing, remember the Capital Kings song I Can’t Quit so that faith prevails as you learn to press on day after day.

by Jay Mankus

The Healing of Harms

The Healing of Harms is one part testimony and one part inspiration to those who are alone.  The goal of this project speaks to those facing insurmountable odds and needing answers after falling in harms way.  Released in 2006, the Healing of Harms is the first non-independent studio album done by the Christian rock band Fireflight.  This serves as a greatest hits album with the emphasis on lyrics that soothe human souls.

So Saul told his servants, “Find me a man who plays well and bring him to me.” 18 One of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a brave and competent man, a warrior, discerning (prudent, eloquent) in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him,” 1 Samuel 16:17-18.

The genre of Fireflight is a combination of Pat Benatar with an occasional Joan Jett sound.  I stumbled upon Fireflight while listening to songs on You Tube for a couple of hours two years ago.  I guess the female led vocal groups l was listening to at the time suggested that I would enjoy Fireflight.  Usually, I find groups with a great song and so-so lyrics.  Or inspirational lyrics that get lost within an average sound.  However, the Healing of Harms contains the best of both worlds.

Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Please let David be my attendant, for he has found favor in my sight.” 23 So it came about that whenever the [evil] spirit from God was on Saul, David took a harp and played it with his hand; so Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would leave him, 1 Samuel 16:22-23.

The first king of Israel understood the healing power of music.  At some point during his reign, King Saul began to be tormented by an evil spirit.  Apparently, godly music refreshed Saul’s soul, causing this spirit to flee.  Today, countless spirits of doubt, fear and shame haunt individuals daily.  When words of encouragement fail to result in healing, maybe it’s time to withdraw to a quiet place where inspirational music can serve as a healing of harms.

by Jay Mankus

Perhaps Its Time to Get Off Your High Horse

As a child, adults, parents and teachers often quoted euphemisms.  These indirect expressions were meant to drive home a point during a teachable moment.  Whenever I appeared to be too judgmental, I heard “get off your high horse.”  The point of this phrase serves as a rebuke to stop criticizing everyone.  Essentially, this a warning to avoid claiming to have a superior moral ground than everyone else.

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;” Luke 6:39.

In the attached You Tube scene above, a man is forced to determine the eternal fate of his two children.  The only catch is one can go to heaven with the other eternally condemned to hell.  The angelic being reveals flaws, imperfections and secret sins formerly unknown to this father.  After a brief period of contemplation, Mack declines to go through with it, offering himself up to take his child’s place in hell.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? – James 4:11-12

After watching this powerful clip from the Shack, conviction consumed my heart.  To a certain extent, I felt like I was the character in the movie, guilty of the same crime, judging others prematurely.  Everyone has a reason for the behavior that they display daily.  Whether its innocence lost at an early age, bad parenting or unwholesome addictions, each impacts actions, character and words.  The key to getting off your high horse is developing a heart that breaks for the pain of others.  May this scene and these words inspire you to see the people in this world through the eyes of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Looking for Answers in ALL the Wrong Places

Between self help books and talk shows, these avenues have become popular sources for finding answers to problems in life.  Internet sites like You Tube have a plethora of videos for almost everything that you need to do around the house.  Instead of seeking the advice of godly counsel, elders, parents or guardians, most people are becoming self-sufficient formulating answers on their own.

How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, Psalm 13:2-3.

In the days of his youth, David spent the majority of his time as a shepherd.  Watching over his families flock, David regularly stayed out in the fields overnight, guarding these sheep.  There wasn’t a book on how to ward off bears or wolves.  Rather, David was forced to trust in the Lord, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide this flock to green and safe pastures.  Like in the passage above, David turned to prayer when he didn’t know what to do.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person, Colossians 4:6.

Unfortunately, I tend to get distracted, looking for answers to my problems in all the wrong places.  Instead of finding comfort, joy and peace, I regularly experience disappointment.  According to the apostle Paul, there is only one source who leads to peace, Philippians 4:6-7.  However, Jesus told his disciples the only way to find life is lose it.  Anyone not one hundred percent devoted to God has a tendency to go back to the ways of the world when hardship or suffering arises.  Therefore, if you’re tired of uncertainty, start looking upward toward heaven instead of within .

by Jay Mankus



Make My Heart Like Yours

Music can be similar to relationships.  The more open minded you are, the likelihood of you accepting and embracing someone or something increases.  Unfortunately, stereotypes about an artist, genre or musician cause individuals to give up on a certain sound after a few seconds of listening.  Subsequently, the careers of millions fail, far short of where they hoped, rejected before having a real shot to succeed.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Such is the case of Linda Elias, wife of Rick whose own career far surpassed hers.  Rick spent a decade as a member of Rich Mullins Ragamuffin band and his music was featured in the 1996 Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do.  As for Linda, following in the Belinda Carlisle genre, I thought her 1991 album The Meaning of Life would jump start her career.  However, in Christian music industry, unless you’re Amy Grant, you’re not going to get the attention you deserve.  As a result, you can’t find any of Linda’s songs on Pandora or You Tube.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Nonetheless, during my recent fast I have started listening to one hour of inspirational music a day.  While soaking in the lyrics to Make My Heart Like Yours, I was moved, touched by God.  This song is more like a prayer, wishing that one day our hearts will become more like Christ.  In this song, Linda confesses her failures and shortcomings.  Leaning on God’s grace, she yearns to be transformed.  As I am daily reminded of my own sins, I am eager, waiting for God to make my heart like his son’s, Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Linda’s album the Meaning of Life is available at for those willing to give a promising artist a chance.


When the Truth doesn’t Matter

From August 1998 to December 2007, Whose Line is it Anyway aired on ABC.  This improvisational comedy show ran for 11 seasons, using music and satire to make people laugh.  Hosted by Drew Carey, each episode began with the classic line “a show where everything is made up and the points don’t matter.”  Little did Drew realize back then that his expression would become reality today.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth, Psalm 145:18.

In the recent events of the Spring Valley High School assault of a student by a police officer, the context of this story has been bypassed by most media outlets.  According to sources inside the school, the police officer who has since been fired was struck in the face prior to dragging this girl outside of a classroom.  As Instagram, Twitter and You Tube provide one side to each story, America is reaching a point in time when the truth doesn’t matter.

If I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth, 1 Timothy 3:15.

Unfortunately, most public and states schools are teaching that truth is relative.  Subsequently, truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference.  Those who are familiar with Common Core curriculum now understand that his reference is going off the deep end, where 5 + 5 + 5 doesn’t always equal 15.  When will this madness end?  Perhaps when the truth matters again or as God people’s awake from their spiritual slumber.  Either way, the truth will set you free, John 8:32.

by Jay Mankus


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