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.