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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

When Satan Hinders and Impedes Your Spiritual Progress

Every day a new set of obstacles arise with the sun. Some of these challenges are recognizable, allowing individuals to easily side step these obstructions. Unfortunately, many of these impediments will come as complete surprises, catching the average citizen off guard and unprepared for what lies ahead for the future. Thus, when the sunsets to end your day, many are left scratching their head mumbling, “how did this happen and why?”

But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a little while in person, [of course] not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great longing to see you face to face,18 Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18.

In the first century, the apostle Paul didn’t believe in bad luck. Rather, when strange things started to happen to hinder and impede his most recent missionary journey, Paul blamed Satan. When your spiritual opponent is able to masquerade as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14, faith must be elevated. If the enemy is the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, it time to start fighting back with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:7-8.

One of Jesus’ disciples shares his own recollection of Satan’s attacks. As Peter was about to celebrate a victorious moment in his life, Matthew 16:16-18, a few moments later everything changed. Peter goes from a spiritual hero to being accused of being on Satan’s side, Matthew 16:22-23. When Satan hinders or impedes your spiritual progress, it’s essential that you take your thoughts captive. Just as Jesus used fasting and prayer to overcome temptation, Matthew 4:1-11, be vigilant so you can withstand the next spiritual attack that you’ll face. When you draw near to God, the Devil flees, James 4:7.

by Jay Mankus

If I Could Coax You for a Minute

Coax is one of those words that might be used in the first round of a spelling bee, but is often replaced in daily conversations with more common expressions. Coaxing someone refers to persuading gradually, typically by flattery to draw individuals toward your point of view. In a first century letter to a church that he helped plant, the apostle Paul is disappointed by recent news of the Galatians’ spiritual slide. Thus, Paul devotes an entire chapter to coax these Christians back on track by using the good news about Jesus Christ.

Would that I were with you now and could coax you vocally, for I am fearful and perplexed about you! – Galatians 4:20

While writing a teenager pastor, Paul paints a dark picture of what this leader will have to confront and face in the near future. The Bible contains 55 passages that reference end times, with several of these accounts in the New Testament. The apostles regularly urged first century Christians to have a sense of urgency, living each day as if Jesus will return today to judge the living and the dead. Yet, when a day comes and goes, demons and seducing spirits are on the prowl, a spiritual predator lying in wait for the weak and wounded.

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

Thus, if I could coax you for a minute, take a moment to examine the world around. Why are people angry? What is the source of hatred? Is this country truly falling apart of like the media suggests or is this simply a ploy to hide evil intentions? Is former president Trump really as evil as he’s portrayed on television or is Satan disguising himself as an angel of light to deceive the masses? If you really want to know what’s going on in the world, turn your attention to the spiritual realm and you might be surprised by what you find, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

by Jay Mankus

Lone Survivor

Bruce Willis played David Dunn in the 2000 film Unbreakable. As the film begins, Dunn’s marriage is falling apart, taking the train to New York for an interview. Upon his return, the train derails and Dunn is the lone survivor. Little did David know that this was no accident, a plot by Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson to see if his polar opposite existed.

And the Sabeans swooped down upon them and took away [the animals]. Indeed, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you, Job 1:15.

In the passage above and below, Job suggests that no matter how great an accident or natural disaster, there is usually at least one survivor. This individual often served as a reporter, recounting exactly what happened and when. After God allowed Satan to inflict Job’s family with a series of tribulations, a lone survivor brings back the bad news to Job.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, The fire of God (lightning) has fallen from the heavens and has burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you, Job 1:16.

If there are no positive signs of surviving a trial, hope can be lost. Unless you begin to experience a victory or victories, confidence disappears. As doubt enters your mind, thoughts can wander from fear to panic and even suicide. Thus, if you want to overcome your current crisis, remember the hidden remnant that the Lord sustains, 1 Kings 19:18. This knowledge serves as a promise to help the hopeless survive and see another day.

by Jay Mankus

The Night I Met Satan in a Bowling Alley

By the beginning of my junior year in college, I felt called to pursue a career in youth ministry. To follow this calling, I began to volunteer in as many ways as possible to prepare myself for the future. I served as an assistant youth director for junior high students at my home church in Wilmington. Meanwhile, I sacrificed several weekends to help out with service projects, retreats and weekly youth related events.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate, Proverbs 8:13.

When one of my mentors from high school asked me to help out at a lock in, an overnight action packed activity, I jumped at this opportunity. High school students were dropped off at a local bowling alley before being driven back to the church in vans afterward. Serving as an adult, I wanted to sit back and listen, observing this group of teenagers. It didn’t take long to recognize the boy that everyone referred to as Satan. Beside being obnoxious, this boy kept running up behind bowlers, hitting and pushing them just before releasing their ball. This behavior continued for an hour.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Romans 12:19.

Instead of being confrontational and preachy, I sat down with this boy, trying to find out what made him tick. I guess you can say understanding Satan became my project for this night. As the evening wore on, I stuck to this boy like glue, hoping to limit his emotional outbursts. When my patience wore off, I began to confront and rebuke Satan, “why are you trying to live up to this nickname?” Feeling compelled to go deeper, the Holy Spirit filled me with probing questions to get to the heart of this boy’s issue.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Normally, I don’t like to press people. Yet, after midnight, I spent an hour peeling away Satan’s onion, one layer at a time. My conversation revealed a broken home, a strict father and having no concept of love. Following a time of prayer in the chapel, the spiritual influences of Satan on this boy’s life was finally broken. This experience as a volunteer inspired me to devote 15 years of my life to youth ministry. As I found out as a college student, nothing is impossible with God as the boy that was called Satan gave his life to Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, before this lock in concluded.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Have Done It Again

In the earliest days on earth, God provided Adam and Eve with a vast amount of freedom. The passage below states Adam’s daily responsibility in the Garden of Eden. There wasn’t a long list of to do’s and dont’s. Rather, God limits the rules to one: do not eat from the tree of knowledge. With the boundary line between right and wrong clearly set, only one tree and it’s fruit was off limits. This couple didn’t have to guess what the right thing to do was nor could they claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

When Eve flirted with Lucifer, a serpent in disguise, a seed of doubt was conceived within her mind. The longer this conversation continued, enticement and lust for this forbidden fruit grew. Despite standing right there next to his wife, Adam was complicit, serving as a curious bystander. This joint act of disobedient forced God to introduce a new set of laws via the Torah to combat original sin. While God was willing to forgive this transgression, punishment is handed out for each guilty party in Genesis 3.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]?-Job 1:6-8

While Genesis is the first book of the Bible, Job is the oldest book. Comments made in chapters 40-41, suggest that Job was living in a land of dinosaurs. If this is true, that would mean Job lived prior to the flood detailed in Genesis 6:17. Job doesn’t refer to Satan as a snake. Rather, Lucifer is a fallen angel who has retained his supernatural powers. Like a spiritual lion seeking to pounce on weak minded individuals, this fact is not to be taken likely. If you disregard or ignore this information, you may find yourself ensnared by sin, stuck in pitiful addicted state. Instead of saying “oops I have done it again,” make sure repentance results in acts of contrition. May this blog inspire you to focus on spiritual transformation.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

From the Power of Satan to God

The documents that comment and expand upon the Mishnah, Hebrew for repeating, is considered the first book of rabbinic law. This collection is known as the Talmud, published approximately around 200 AD. The Talmud is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and primary source of Jewish religious law and theology. This book refers to Jesus as the Great Magician based upon the teaching of Pharisees in Matthew 12:24. This is the first reference of the power of Satan being confused with God.

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

Like any great debater, Jesus exposes first century religious leaders with one simple question. “And if Satan drives out Satan, he has become divided against himself and disunified; how then will his kingdom last or continue to stand?-Matthew 12:26″ After being accused of performing exorcisms, healings and miracles with the help of Beelzebub, the prince of demons, Jesus quickly pokes holes in their theory. Despite silencing his critics, the label of being a Great Magician stuck as an earthly nickname.

To open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may thus receive forgiveness and release from their sins and a place and portion among those who are consecrated and purified by faith in Me, Acts 26:18.

While speaking to a courtroom full of Jewish religious leaders, Paul briefly confesses that his love for Jewish laws, traditions and theology resulted in spiritual blindness. Unable to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah, Paul believed that he was living in darkness, under the power of Satan. While confronting scribes and Pharisees in John 8, Jesus unveils Satan as the father of all lies. When you are on the other side, this reality is unclear. However, when you open the door to forgiveness, the power of Satan is loosened as the power of the Holy Spirit takes over. May you too discover this freedom while transitioning from the power of Satan to God.

by Jay Mankus

Demonic Influences on Mental Health

Whenever people hear accounts of curses, demons and evil spirits, there is a hesitancy to believe these stories.  Perhaps, unrealistic movie scenes or television re-enactments have placed doubts into human minds.  Unless you are an eyewitness to one of these supernatural events, demonic influences on mental health isn’t even considered.  However, if curses, demons and evil spirits are real, their impact on mental health would explain many unsolved questions.

They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. When Jesus got out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met Him, and the man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with chains. For he had often been bound with shackles [for the feet] and with chains, and he tore apart the chains and broke the shackles into pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue and tame him. Night and day he was constantly screaming and shrieking among the tombs and on the mountains, and cutting himself with [sharp] stones, Mark 5:1-5.

An estimated 2 million Americans practice some form of self-injury.  During my final year of teaching high school, I became aware of the practice of Self-Mutilation.  According to an article on the Daily Dot, Emo music and it’s impact on teenagers has been overlooked in America’s growing mental health crisis.  Apparently, this new age disco like music is playing a role in tempting depressed and lonely souls to continue cutting their bodies.  If you take the passage above as a case study, it’s possible that demons are the force behind modern self-mutilation.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it.” Cain talked with Abel his brother [about what God had said]. And when they were [alone, working] in the field, Cain attacked Abel his brother and killed him, Genesis 4:6-8.

The passage above sheds light on what happens inside the human brain as individuals contemplate what they are going to do.  In this case, God has a private conversation with Cain as he wrestles with jealousy within his heart.  Cain is frustrated that his occupation as a farmer is much harder than Abel’s position as a shepherd.  Subsequently, a spirit of hatred seizes this opportunity to consume Cain’s vulnerable heart.  In the end, this evil spirit persuades Cain to do the unthinkable, murder his younger brother.  While those who commit crimes today are usually imprisoned, demons and evil spirits flee the scene without blame or getting caught.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

The apostle Paul throws another curveball into the discussion of demonic influences on mental health.  As a fallen angel, Satan knows how to appear as an angel of light.  Thus, you must know that this masquerade continues today, deceiving many Christians and non-believers.  This is why Paul wrote a letter to the church at Thessalonica warning people the test everything that you hear with the word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Abstinance from every form of evil must be practiced.  If not, demonic influences will impact your mental health.

by Jay Mankus

 

Removing Any Unwanted Visitors

Now that Easter Sunday is over, some people may be wondering, what do I do now?  Well, one thing is for certain, the closer you get to God, the more of a threat you become to Satan, aka the Devil.  Thus, don’t be surprised by a series of unwanted visitors in the form of demonic attacks, ungodly influences and a wave of temptations to through you off track.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

The author of Hebrews compares life on earth to a marathon.  Along the way, there will be obstacles, pot holes and unplanned delays meant to trip you up.  As a former angel, Lucifer has the ability to disguise evil in an attractive manner.  These clever attacks delay, entangle and slow down runners.  Therefore, if you want to remove any unwelcomed visitors endurance and perseverance must exist.

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him,” Acts 5:32.

A first century doctor makes an interesting observation between the Holy Spirit and obedience.  According to Luke, the Holy Spirit is bestowed and poured out upon those who obey God.  Thus, the best way to remove any unwanted visitors is by obeying biblical practices.  As you read the four gospels and continue throughout the New Testament, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is waiting for faithful followers.  As individuals keep in step with the Holy Spirit, this supernatural counselor will enable you to take the necessary steps to remove all unwanted and unwelcomed visitors.  May this bestowing awaken you as you draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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