Friday, December 18, 2015

December 21, 2012…The end of the world? by Karen Manning

December 21, 2012…

The end of the world?

The end of the Mayan calendar on December 21, 2012 led many to speculate that the world would end that day. It was on the evening news; it was all over the social media; there was talk of it in line at the grocery store.  You see, there seems to be built inside of us this understanding that everything comes to an end at some point. Our meals have an end, our books have an end, and we have an end, too.

I have faced the truth of that in my life several times. Like when my husband battled cancer for three years and then died a terrible death. And like, when he was fighting cancer, I was diagnosed with cancer, too. Or like when I was dizzy at work and called the doctor, who said to get to the ER right away. The ER doctor ordered a CT scan and came back into the room with a grim look on her face. I was then taken by ambulance to the University Hospital in Iowa City . ---A ride like that will wake you up in a hurry to the possibility that you might not be around a whole lot longer.

You see, the scans showed that I had brain cancer. And it was serious. They did more scans and tests and scheduled me for surgery on Monday morning. When I got up that Friday morning, I had no idea that I’d be in a hospital 80 miles away by that evening, or that I’d be having brain surgery three days later. That morning seemed like an ordinary day for me and I did ordinary things. But a diagnosis came that day that changed everything for me. And the circumstances of that day reinforced for me the absolute truth that my life on this earth will come to an end.

And then what? The Bible says that “Just as man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people...” After we die, we face judgment. For what? For our sins. I’m a pretty good person simply because I make pretty good choices, but I’m not good enough to get into heaven. Not if one sin will keep you out, and God says that it will. I’ve lied, which makes me a liar. I even stole candy from a store when I was a kid, and that makes me a thief. There have been plenty of times that I got mad when someone cut in front of me in line, and I must confess that my heart is full of pride. --- There’s no heaven for me without some outside help!

Jesus is that outside help. We all want someone to pay when a terrible wrong has been committed. That’s justice. Well, when we sin, we do a terrible wrong against God, and God requires that someone pay for it.  That’s what Jesus’ coming to earth and dying on the cross was all about. He was paying for what mankind has done wrong. I can’t even remember everything I’ve  done wrong, so how could I ever pay for it all? 

Yes, God keeps a record of all our sins and yes, there is a Judgment Day. If I don’t have a relationship with Him, He will read off all of those sins, and I will have no defense. I’ll have to agree with Him that I am guilty and that I deserve punishment. We joke about hell sometimes, but eternal punishment in burning flames is no joke. Thankfully, Jesus made a way of escape for anyone who wants to take it.

God says, “…If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.’”

I believe that with all my heart. Knowing that I won’t face God’s wrath after I die gives me peace in this life and peace for what comes afterward. Jesus paid for the sins I committed. So when I die and face God, I can point to Jesus as the One who paid for me to get into heaven and God will let me in. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.”

Do you have that same assurance? If you find yourself unexpectedly standing before God later today, will you have Jesus as your Defender or your Judge?

If you honestly desire a relationship with God, will you acknowledge that you have sinned, and that you’re lost without Jesus? You can either do it willingly now, or by God’s command later, because the Bible says that  “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Will you thank Him for dying on the cross to pay the price for your sinfulness? Will you think about it and take care of it now?--- Because like me, this day may end differently than you ever dreamed.


Karen went to be with her Savior on July 18, 2015

On Losing My Mind -- and Being Thankful by Karen Manning

 Karen Manning wrote this to friends from her hospital bed in Iowa City July 9, 2012, just before undergoing surgery to remove a brain tumor. Her words point us to worship of our faithful God. I don't know what trial you are facing today, but may you be encouraged to have a thankful heart, too.

On Losing My Mind -- and Being Thankful

I was encouraged to blog, but until someone with a whole brain has a chance to set up a blog for me after surgery, I thought I might take this liberty just today to share my thoughts as a testimony to what God is already doing for us through your prayers...

This is the day we begin a new adventure with God. Over the weekend we found out that I have a malignant brain tumor and today a skilled team of Drs will cut through my skull, into my cerebellum, and try to remove the tumor. At my age, I sometimes feel I'm losing my mind, but today I will be doing exactly that! There are many praying, and the God of peace and grace is filling us with peace and grace. He is good, even in circumstances that are not good!

In His mercy, He has spared me from the "why me's?". I don't need to know why, I just need to know Him! And from what I already know of Him, I know that He can be trusted. This was totally unexpected, but it has not caught God off guard and He will carry us through.

This day, Lord, I praise You for the first 54 years of my life. They have been full, and I have been blessed! Though being with You today would be a delight, I ask You for more years here to serve You and for more time with my new husband and our blended family.

I ask You to use this event to show us all more of who You are --- and for it to be a testimony to those who are watching as we go through it. Trials are never just about us or just for us. They ripple out into the lives of others, and You can use them to teach and reach those whom You have not chosen to go through things like this. Teach and reach, we ask! Don't let this be wasted. It's a bad thing, but You are in the business of redeeming bad things and using them for good. (After all, You redeemed us!) Help us to be faithful to You through this, and to not blame You or accuse You of being unloving. What a lie that would be because Oh, how You love us! Help us to be good representatives of You and accurate reflectors of Who You are, because there are many who have a mistaken perception of You.

I love You, Lord, and this day I lift my voice in worship to You for being the wonderful God that You are! Even though this family has faced cancer twice before, You have been good! You never left us, and You tenderly carried us in Your arms, as a Shepherd carries His lambs. We look forward to that again as The Great Adventure, part 3 begins!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed. I cry out to God Most High, to God, Who fulfills His purpose for me.... My heart is steadfast, O God... I will praise You, O Lord... I will sing of You... For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God..."    Psalm 57

Karen went to be with her Savior on July 18, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"'You have about a year to live', he said", by Merlyn VandeKrol

“You have about a year
  to live,” he said.

Well, that certainly wasn’t what I wanted to hear! The lowest day of my life was when my doctor used the words “inoperable” and “cancer” in the same sentence, and gave me a year to live – maybe sixteen months with chemo. I sought a second opinion at Mayo Clinic, and they told me the same thing – “about a year.” It’ll take a miracle for me to beat this.

But I know you don’t want to read about all my health problems. What I really want to tell you is what I’ve done to prepare for the fact that my life on earth is going to end – maybe sooner than I’d like. The Bible says that physical death isn’t really the end – that the human soul lives forever – either in the presence of God (heaven) or in complete and total separation from God (hell). It says that “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

I don’t want to die. I’ve got a wife and two teenage sons and a lot to live for. But the fact is, we’re all going to die, and none of us knows when, so it’s best to be prepared. Are you prepared?

A few years back, I reached a point when my sin overwhelmed me, and I felt a need to make my peace with God. Now, I hadn’t committed any of the “biggie” sins like murder and adultery, but those aren’t the only sins there are. What about unjust anger, lying, greed, gluttony, pride, lust, envy?… If you’re like me, there are several things on that list that you could write the word “guilty” beside.

…And just one of them will keep you out of heaven. 

Thankfully, God loves us too much to let the story end there. Someone has to pay for sin, and Jesus offered to do that. Why Him? Because it takes someone perfect, and as God’s Son, He’s the only one who meets the qualifications. When He died on the cross, He was taking your place, my place. He was paying for our sin. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (I Peter 3:18).

Some think they can earn their way to heaven, but there’s nothing I could do that would impress God in that way. The Bible says that “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). There’s good news, though: the work is already done! Jesus did everything that God required when He took the punishment for our sins.

Acknowledging my sin and my inability to ever meet God’s holy standards, I have welcomed Jesus Christ into my life as my savior and asked Him to take charge. Now I know that whatever happens to this body of mine, my soul will live forever with God. Believe me, I’m at peace knowing that that issue is settled!

Maybe you’re going through a tough time right now. Maybe you have family issues, financial issues, dis-appointments in your life that are getting you down. I can testify firsthand that having a relationship with Christ is priceless when going through times like these. Sometimes He delivers us from them. Other times, He helps us through them, growing our faith in the process.

I’d like to leave you with a recommendation: Check out the Bible. Start reading the book of John in the New Testament. You’ll quickly get a view of exactly who Jesus Christ is. I’m confident you’ll be attracted to Him, just as I was.

When you’ve finished, go back to chapter 3, verse 16 and read it again. It says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” Everlasting life! That’s exactly what I need! And it’s what you need, too.

Trusting Christ with your life is not complicated. It’s simply a matter of admitting to God that you are a sinner, and that you need Jesus to be your Savior. “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). You don’t have to say just the right words. The all-knowing God knows your heart, so just speak from your heart.

It's my prayer that you'll discover for yourself the inner peace I have as a result of placing my faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Thanks for reading,


Merlyn passed to glory on January 30, 2006. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Christianity is Not a Religion?

There are many cliches in the Church today--catchy sayings that are popular and that people like to throw out because they sound good and appealing--on the surface. One of these cliches is "Christianity isn't about religion; it's about a relationship with Christ". Some people will even distance themselves from the word "Christian", and instead call themselves "followers of Christ". This I can somewhat understand because of the fact that so many people who classify themselves as Christians don't really follow Christ. However, many people who are followers of Christ but don't want to call themselves Christians have this aversion because they don't want to be affiliated with a "religion".

However, is being a part of a religion--or being a "religious" person--a bad thing? With the negative connotation that the words "religion" and "religious" have been assigned by many in the Church today, you would think so! But let's take a look at what the Bible actually says on the matter.

"Religion" in and of itself is not condemned in the Bible, only how it is practiced. No one has yet been able to show me verses to the contrary. I don't typically like to use multiple different Bible translations, but I have done that here because some use the word "religion" or "religious" where others don't.

Let's start with the KJV:

Acts 13:43 says, "Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God."

The word "religious" seems to have a positive meaning in that verse.

James 1:26-27 says, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

These verses indicate that religion is a good thing, but that you are deceiving yourself by thinking you are religious if you don't do the things listed here.

Colossians 2:23 (ESV) says, "These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

While it seems negative in regard to "religion", it is really only critical of "self-made" religion.

1 Timothy 5:4 (Holman) says, "But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they should learn to practice their religion toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God."

This verse actually says religion *should* be practiced.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (Holman) says, "1 But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!"

Having religion wasn't the sin; denying its power was. Also, when Paul told the men of Athens he could see that they were very religious, was he insulting them?

It seems that where "religion" or "religious" is mentioned in the Bible, it is either positive or neutral. The only time it has a negative connotation is in reference to "bad" religion. I haven't seen any place where religion itself is condemned.

Whether or not one wants to admit it, based on what we read in Scripture Christianity IS a religion, but it is a religion based on a relationship--a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Finally, let's look at one more reference, this time not from the Bible, but from a source that is respected by most conservative Christians, Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:

RELIGION, n. relij'on. [L. religio, from religo, to bind anew; re and ligo, to bind. This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or the obligation of such an oath or vow, which was held very sacred by the Romans.]

1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.

2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. James 1.

3. Religion, as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law.
Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.

4. Any system of faith and worship. In this sense, religion comprehends the belief and worship of pagans and Mohammedans, as well as of christians; any religion consisting in the belief of a superior power or powers governing the world, and in the worship of such power or powers. Thus we speak of the religion of the Turks, of the Hindoos, of the Indians, &c. as well as of the christian religion. We speak of false religion, as well as of true religion.

5. The rites of religion; in the plural.

So, it would appear that "religion" does not deserve the bad rap it has been getting, and being "religious" is not necessarily a bad thing!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Superintendent Apologizes for "Controversial" School Assembly

We now live in a culture where sinful and perverse behavior is considered normal and God's word is considered "controversial".

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The untruthiness (or ignorance) of our state Democrat legislators

Some of you may have seen the video of the business owner asking state senator Jeff Danielson about the impact of adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's civil rights code. That is the video in which Danielson accused that citizen of being hateful. Danielson and two other legislators (Dotzler and Kressig) denied the predictions of what would happen if those two categories were added to the civil rights law. However, everything predicted has now been affirmed by One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization. Either these legislators were ignorant as to what would happen, or they were dishonest, neither of which is good. This is also evidence that the predictions made by the business owner were not just fear tactics, or "hate in [his] heart", or "digust" for people who practice that behavior, as Danielson claimed.

An interesting sidenote is that Danielson asserted that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for a "whole host of enumerated traits". First of all, there are no enumerated traits in the Fourteenth Amendment. Second, having protected classes in the state's civil rights code actually violates the spirit of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it offers greater protection to some classes of people than to others. I wonder how Danielson--Pro Tempora of the Iowa State Senate--can uphold and defend the Constituion, as he acknowledged he is obligated to do, when he doesn't know what it says and/or understand what it means?

Here's the video with Danielson:

It is too late to do anything about this. Too many of us were uninformed and/or unmotivated to call our legislators. However, it is good to know this information if you ever get into a discussion with someone about this subject. It can be especially valuable come next election time. However, we can't just wait for the next round of campaigns to heat up. We need to do a better job during the time between election cycles (if there IS such a thing as time between election cycles anymore!) of informing the public of the effect of laws that are being pushed by the Dems, or that have already been passed. Let's not be asleep at the wheel if the same-sex "marriage" issue comes up again.

If you haven't watched the video of Chuck Hurley's meeting with the Des Moines Register's editorial board, I encourage you to do so. I know it is long, but it is a great demonstration of where both sides are on this issue, the arguments being used, and the rebuttals being offered.

You can find the complete text from which the below excerts were taken at:

Keep in mind, this is not a proposed law--it is already in effect.

Emphasis below (and comments in parenthesis) is mine.

Dress codes:

...dress codes are not precluded by state or federal law as long as an employer allows an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee's gender identity.

("Gender identity" is self-identified, and is whatever the individual decides it is at any particular moment)

Restroom usage:

It is still legal in Iowa for businesses to maintain gender-segregated restrooms. The new law does require, however, that individuals are permitted to access those restrooms in accordance with their gender identity, rather than their assigned sex at birth. And, just as non-transgender individuals are entitled to use a restroom appropriate to their gender identity without having to provide documentation or respond to invasive requests, transgender individuals must also be allowed to use a gender-identity appropriate restroom without being harassed or questioned.

(Ladies, don't be surprised if you run into a man who has defined himself as female next time you use a public restroom)

"Harassment" and "hostile work environment":

Workplace harassment is any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct that either denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity that:

  • Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment;
  • (A person could say the workplace was hostile if they knew there was a Christian there who believed homosexuality is a sin. The believer wouldn't even have to verbalize it for the person to claim they are offended having such a person in their workplace.)

  • Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's work performance

  • (An employee could claim that having such a person as mentioned above in the workplace was interfering with his performance.)

  • Employers should ensure their employees are protected not only from other supervisors and coworkers, but also from harassment by third parties, such as service users and vendors.

  • (So employers are not only responsible for themselves and their employees, but also their customers and suppliers?)

    Public accommodation:

    Harassment, intimidation, or other demonstration of hostility

    (This is wide open to interpretation. If a person has Bibles in his business for people to take, would that be considered harassment or intimidation?)

    Does the law apply to churches?:

    Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law's provisions, e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public.