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The Great Sea Monsters

Creature Features which aired for six seasons in Chicago from 1970-1976 was the first television series to highlight the concept and possibility of real-life monsters on earth. The first nationally televised show devoted to mysterious phenomena started one year later. In Search Of ran from 1977-1982 with Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy served as the narrator of this hour-long documentary series. This show introduced me to sea creatures like the Loch Ness Monster.

God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, which the waters brought forth abundantly, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good (suitable, admirable) and He approved it, Genesis 1:21.

While reading the Bible recently, I was amazed to see that God created great sea monsters as noted by Moses in the Book of Genesis. According to the Hebrew word used for great sea monsters, God is specifically referring to creatures of monstrous size and shape. The Bible also mentions the Dragon, Behemoth, and Leviathan. The book of Job suggests the Leviathan is either an alligator or crocodile. Meanwhile, the Behemoth is some sort of beast of the sea (either giant squid, serpent or whale).

Can you draw out the leviathan (the crocodile) with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord? Can you put a rope into his nose? Or pierce his jaw through with a hook or a spike? Will he make many supplications to you [begging to be spared]? Will he speak soft words to you [to coax you to treat him kindly]? – Job 41:1-3.

If 71 percent of the earth is water, there are likely many great sea creatures that have yet to be discovered. While most dinosaurs perished either during or after the biblical flood in Genesis, scientists annually find a species that they thought was extinct. As someone who has always been intrigued by mysterious phenomena, it would be convenient to have more evidence on the great sea monsters on earth. Yet, for now I place my trust in the Lord who was the creator of these unique large creatures.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 237: Closer to Love

Long distance relationships are one of those difficult decisions that people who are in love make. Sometimes these relationships survive, and others end up failing due to a lack of trust. Today’s song Closer to Love by Mat Kearney is based upon how one phone call can change your life forever. While distance makes the heart grow fonder, loneliness opens the door for temptation.

For there is no good (healthy) tree that bears decayed (worthless, stale) fruit, nor on the other hand does a decayed (worthless, sickly) tree bear good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit; for figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a bramblebush. 45 The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks, Luke 6:43-45.

My wife Leanne and I dated for a year living 8 hours apart. We tried to meet in Chicago once a month which was the halfway point. Yet, military families don’t have this option unless some sort of leave is granted over the holidays. While Closer to Love isn’t a spiritual song, it’s a topic that many people can relate to. I hope you enjoy today’s ballad.

by Jay Mankus

My Own Personal Story of the Living Years

Mike Rutherford started Mike and the Mechanics as a side project while a member of the group Genesis. This decision opened the door for Mike to leave the spotlight of lead singer Phil Collins to begin his own music legacy. While Mike and the Mechanics released several popular songs, the Living Years was by far their most meaningful hit. I was reminded of this song when my mother-in-law passed away last week.

 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

In the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic, my wife and her sister decided to remove Barb from a nursing home in Chicago so that she could stay the remainder of her living years at Laura’s home in South Carolina. This wasn’t an easy decision but was made so that Barb could live as close to a normal life as possible for someone in her weakened condition. While living in Delaware, Leanne made as many trips to Aiken as possible until our families move in June of 2022.

I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me, Galatians 2:20.

Barb fought hard, living 22 months in South Carolina, allowing my wife to be there for the final two months. Saying goodbye is never easy, especially when a loved one can’t communicate with you. Yet, Leanne was there for the final 48 hours until Barb went home to be with the Lord on August 4th, 2022. As the Wagner family prepares to say goodbye at the funeral in Chicago, I will always remember the Living Years when Barb was at her best playing with her grandchildren or improving her home. R.I.P.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 122: How Could I Ask for More?

When I was working full time in youth ministry, Cindy Morgan was one of my favorite female Christian artists. While working in Columbus, Indiana at a Methodist Church, Cindy was one of the featured artists at an outdoor concert at Mill Race Park. The album that touched my heart the most was Real Life. At this time, there wasn’t many artists who addressed real life issues like How Could I Ask for More?

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved ([c]delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

As a child, the alure with being rich and famous is common. Yet, when my parents moved to a wealthy area of Ohio and my girlfriend Leanne lived in an affluent suburb in Chicago, the emptiness of wealth was revealed to me. I didn’t see what I expected except for a desire to keep up with the Joneses. Looking back, the lyrics of How Could I Ask For Me reminds me that happiness comes the love of Jesus. So as my future job in South Carolina is still unknown, all I can do is thank God for the little things as I wait.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 81: Welcome to the Jesus Movement

It’s not very often that Junior High School aspirations become a reality. Yet, for the Christian blues-rock group Three Crosses, this is exactly what happened. Lifelong friends from New Jersey, Steve Pasch and Ralphie Barrientos formed Three Crosses in 1995. When my wife Leanne was a youth director in Chicago, we took the youth group to see Three Crosses during one of their tours.

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

Three Crosses is best known for their moving worship songs. Yet, Welcome to the Jesus Movement is one of those tunes that provides a great song with solid lyrics. When you add songs like The Stone Was Rolled Away, Christians can prepare their minds to celebrate a resurrected Lord. If you ever want to uplift your soul, play the first two Three Crosses albums and the Holy Spirit will stir and touch your heart.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 60: Carmen

Today’s featured song combines a biblical story with music. After getting married in Chicago, my wife Leanne got a position as a youth director in Bolingbrook, Illinois. For nearly two years, we served as partners in youth ministry. One of the first events I attended with this youth group was a Carmen concert at the Rosemont Horizon. Between the dancers, props and overall production of this show, I was blown away.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [[h]in death], 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

While my high school mentor and swim coach introduced me to Carmen, seeing these stories of the Bible live come to life in a song was amazing. Following this concert, I purchased nearly all of Carmen’s albums. While Carmen has dozens of famous songs, the athlete in men has made the Champion my favorite. This song is like a scene from one of the Rocky movies that turns into a worship service. I hope you enjoy the Champion.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 45: I Believe You

Today’s song comes from a group that I discovered in another bargain bin. Anytime you take a chance on an unknown artist, it’s either boom or bust. Yet, since it usually costs 99 cents to download a song onto your computer or phone, I don’t mind spending a dollar to see what I can uncover. Of the 14 songs on the This Too Shall Pass album by the Fold, I Believe You is my favorite.

Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and[c]to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me, John 20:29.

The Fold is an American indie rock band from Chicago, Illinois. While I lived in Chicago for a couple of years after getting married, the Fold didn’t form until 2002, long after Leanne and I moved to Delaware. I Believe You uses a similar style found in modern spontaneous worship montages. The initial pop rock melody transitions into a slower Spirit filled song before ending with the original beat. I hope you enjoy the Fold.

by Jay Mankus

Who is There to Hurt You?

While anxiety is less intense than fear, stress tends to be a more sustained emotional response than phobias. Although human beings may be threatened by overreaching and power-hungry individuals, inner demons are often your own worst enemy. Anyone who has ever experienced an anxiety attack, know the overwhelming feeling you endure and how it can interfere with your daily life.

Now who is there to hurt you if you are [d]zealous followers of that which is good? – 1 Peter 3:13

Since my days at Hanby Junior High School in Wilmington, Delaware, I’ve turned to music to find comfort and hope. Whenever I was sad, I’d listen to Air Supply or Chicago which made me even more depressed. Perhaps this empty feeling eventually drew me to only listen to Christian music. While in college, a friend introduced me to punk rock and a group called the Altar Boys. The emptiness I once experienced was replaced by a quiet confidence thanks to the song “When I’m with God.”

But even in case you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, [you are] blessed (happy, to be envied). Do not dread or be afraid of their threats, nor be disturbed [by their opposition], 1 Peter 3:14.

No matter how big, tall or old you may be, there is always someone faster, stronger and smarter. Despite all of the new threats that you may experience, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ has eased many of my anxieties in life. Like the words of one of Jesus’ disciples in the passage above, who is there to hurt you if you are passionately following the Lord? No one likes hardships, persecution or trials, but when I’m with God my fears tend to fade away. Place your hope in Jesus today, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Myth, Mystery or Monster?

After getting married in Chicago, I spent two years living next to Algonquian Road. This name didn’t mean anything to me at the time until watching a recent documentary on this North American Indian tribe. One of the legendary myths of the Algonquian Tribe is the presence of a Wendigo. This terrifying creature made it’s presence known during the winter months. Algonquian folklore refers to the manifestation of this dark spirit within human beings similar to someone being possessed by the Devil.

In that day [the Lord will deliver Israel from her enemies and also from the rebel powers of evil and darkness] His sharp and unrelenting, great, and strong sword will visit and punish Leviathan the swiftly fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting and winding serpent; and He will slay the monster that is in the sea, Isaiah 27:1.

Like any myth, until eyewitnesses come forward with tangible evidence, the idea that a Wendigo exists is nothing more than folklore. A fictional character like Big Foot with a more aggressive craving for human flesh. Perhaps the story of a man named Swift Runner in 1878 near Hudson Bay conceived and fueled the idea that of the Wendigo is not so far fetched. After killing and eating his entire family over a long cold winter, modern doctors have given this condition a name. The “Wendigo Psychosis” refers to the inexplicably desire to be overcome with the need to consume human flesh.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

If you search for the term monsters in the Bible, the Old Testament refers to a Leviathan. Apparently, Jewish folklore spoke of the Leviathan in terms of a giant sea serpent. Meanwhile, the New Testament compares Satan to a spiritual con artist, able to masquerade as an angel of light. If these two creatures joined forces, the idea of some being like a Wendigo might be possible. Yet, for now the Wendigo is still a myth or mystery to most human beings, unless of course you’ve had your own personal encounter with this legendary beast.

by Jay Mankus

24

To the casual observer, this title suggests I am referring to the television series starring Kiefer Sutherland. While this counter-terrorist drama brought Jack Bauer to life, I mention this because 24 is the only television show that I have followed live since getting married in 1995. In the early years of my marriage, cable wasn’t a priority, just watching the four major networks and whatever else our antenna could pick up. While visiting my father in law in Chicago, 24 watch parties were a common occurrence, fixated for the entire hour once a week.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

However, the real meaning of today’s title is the number of years that I now have been married. For today, November 25th is my 24th wedding anniversary. While eating brunch with my groomsmen, I watched Ohio State, where I did part of my college internship, lose to Michigan in college football. As the 3 pm wedding time drew near, Chicago was seasonably warm, in the fifties. While Leanne did most of the planning, my input was the music, having two friends sing in our wedding and DJ from Indiana where I served as a youth pastor. My favorite part of this day was personally greeting each row, meeting and talking with family and friends. Yet, it’s hard to believe that 24 years have passed in a blinking of an eye.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the Lord, Proverbs 19:14.

Looking forward, next year will mark a quarter of a century and the following year will mean that I have spent half of my life on earth with Leanne. What Moses says in Genesis about marriage is true, two people become one. While selfish desires still exist, part of marriage is coming together as a team to follow God’s will. Three children and one wedding later, there are still many events that await in the future. Yet, I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to meet Leanne Marie Wagner at a youth workers convention 26 years ago. I pray that as our home becomes an empty nest in three years that the Holy Spirit will guide us in the years ahead. As for today, I wish my bride Leanne a happy anniversary.

by Jay Mankus

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