I Hate Cancer! Remembering Karen Long.

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I will not die but live and will proclaim what the Lord has done.” Psalm 118:17

Cancer sucks

I don’t know any way to sugar coat that comment and make it more “religiously” correct. I just know that cancer has robbed too many of my loved ones of a few more days with their families.

For me, it is more than pink ribbons and races. It’s more than t-shirts, bottles, caps and blankets. It’s not an opportunity to make money in October…it’s a reality that I have seen too often and have experienced with my own Mother.

Today, so many in Orlando mourn the loss of one of the bravest warriors I have ever met. Karen Long was a believer, wife, mother, daughter, sister, police officer, and friend to many. Her smile and happy spirit were infectious. She didn’t let cancer define her and Karen met this disease with a passion for God that she felt carried her through the “valley.”

Yesterday, Karen was victorious over her 8-year illness and crossed from this life into another with Jesus. She was 41 and leaves a husband and two children ages 10 and 12.

It’s not fair.

…and I don’t blame God.

The God I love weeps with us, while He welcomes Karen to glory with open arms of love and grace.

I cling to the words that Karen often said and shared with so many: “One thing I know for sure is that God will not give me one less day on Earth than what He intended. I will not give up, I will fight with all my might and continue to declare my healing!”

Karen is healed. She just isn’t with us on this side of heaven.

And that makes me sad.

Karen’s story:

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-officer-karen-long-cancer-dies-20151011-story.html

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Go Rest High on that Mountain.

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I love old cemeteries. I find them peaceful. Death does not scare me.

Near our home in North Carolina there is a small, private cemetery. It holds the remains of soldiers killed during the Civil War.

These three crosses mark the site of soldiers unknown to locals. Their final resting place is marked with a simple cross. Someone took the time to honor them thus and still tend to this small patch of earth.

But it doesn’t matter.

God knows them by heart. He knows their names.

We put great effort into marking our territories which includes our homes, our cars, and our grave plots. But mark your heart. 

Mark it for God.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. Isaiah 45:3

Coming For to Carry Me Home

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Today I walked with a childhood friend as we buried her Momma. No matter our age, for many of us, our Mothers are a constant reminder of the purest form of love that we will know. Mothers bind us with their hearts as they bear us in their wombs. They are wonderfully made and graced by God.

I talked so much with my parents who told me that the best way I could honor their memory was to live out a happy life after they were gone. Amazingly, the first thing I found in my father’s wallet after he passed away was a picture of his own Dad who had gone to glory over 70 years ago. For 70 years my Dad had looked at that picture daily. He never forgot.

I know that my friend today will honor her Mother and remember her with love all the rest of her earthly days. I feel the same for my parents. I think we can honor and remember equally and know they wait for us in heaven.

Until that wonderful reunion, I’ll laugh, love, enjoy this life and thank God for every day. That’s the least I can do.

May angels lead you into paradise Gloria Meyerdierks and may God bless Barbara as she grieves her great loss.

Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home

I looked over Jordan, and I what did I see
Coming for to carry me home?
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

If you get there before I do
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I coming too
Coming for to carry me home

I’m sometimes up, I’m sometimes down
Coming for to carry me home
But still my soul feels heavenly bound
Coming for to carry me home

When life gives you lemons

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…make lemonade

I know this sounds like a really sketchy concept for my Easter Sunday blog. But stick with me for a minute.

This is the ultimate bad day turns out great day in history. If we are to believe that Jesus really did rise from the dead on the third day after his crucifixion, then it is absolutely life changing. This is not fiction, it’s not a fable, it’s not just a great story. In fact, if you believe, then you can never go back to normal.

With Jesus – normal is not an option.

If you believe, then you have to believe without reservation or restrictions. It’s time to redirect your course. You can’t just fit Jesus into your life when convenient. Jesus IS your life now. You are a changed person.

Your life may have been lemons before you found Jesus but once you let him into your heart…it’s time to make lemonade. This story, this life of Christ is too big for one day. It’s for all eternity.

Are you all in?

 

A borrowed tomb.

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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Isaiah 53:9

There is a great deal written about the death and resurrection but not as many expound upon the burial of Jesus Christ.

It was all foretold by Isaiah in the scripture above and fulfilled prophecy. It is an important part of the story.

Typically, non-Jewish criminals who had been crucified were left on the cross. According to Jewish custom, Jesus should have been moved to a poor and lowly gravesite out of the area.

And when evening was come, there came a rich man from Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: this man went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-58

Jesus’s body was taken away by rich believers and placed in a tomb (empty and never used) reserved for the wealthy. Why did Pilate allow this? Historians believe it is because Joseph of Arimathaea was a rich man of influence. But some also surmise that Pilate allowed it in order to ensure that the tomb was sealed and secure. I believe Joseph knew Jesus was the King of Kings. He knew that Jesus earthly body should rest, for a while, with the wealthy.

Pilate’s plan failed. You can’t stop the Lord of Lords. No grave can stop Jesus. The stone is rolled away. Hallelujah!

So much of what we learn through this final earthly walk with Christ was the fulfillment of prophecy. Of course, His whole life was the same.

I look forward to the stone being rolled away. I look forward to the resurrection and the life to come. Bring on Easter Sunday!

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.

Amen.

Remember Me…

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What is your favorite Bible verse? It is always interesting to hear the choices people make. In reality, this is not a test. No one fails. There is no wrong answer – only good ones.

I love so many but one pulls at my heart every time. It means something to me…something that confirms that the grace of God flows freely to the righteous and those that may be deemed unworthy. It flows to sinners.

In Jesus final hours on this earth and as He nears death on the cross, he has two criminals to each side of Him enduring the same fate in death. These two criminals are just like us. They are unworthy, lowly, and reeking of sin. Even in His final moments, Jesus is partnered with two very unlovable sinners.

One criminal choose this time to berate and deny Jesus. He mocks Him even as he is dying.

The other criminal does something astonishing. He believes. I don’t know the depth of his sins but in this one incredible moment of faith, he turns to Jesus and says “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42

Jesus response with my favorite verse “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43

What beautiful words of comfort. What a gift to that sinner. What a relief to a weary soul.

There are many verses to hang your faith upon but this one sentence means the world to me. It reminds me that while I tread this earthly path, it is not my permanent home…I belong to and believe in a Savior who guarantees that I will, one day, live with Him in paradise.

On this Good Friday, I look to my precious Lord and I say…

Remember me…

Jesus Paid It All…All To Him I Owe.

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My Dad was always thinking ahead. He apologized on more than one occasion that one day I would come in to wake him and he would be gone and walking with Jesus. While I told him not to stress out about this, I also reminded him that no one knows the time, date or way you are going to cross from this life into eternity.

No one knows the day they will die…except Jesus.

Jesus knew.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning. Like all of us…technically we are born to die. But he knew his death was imminent and was going to be difficult, very difficult.

I cannot even begin to imagine the sheer weight of this knowledge. I can’t imagine how Jesus felt carrying the sins of the world on His shoulders. It is just beyond my ability to comprehend.

Tonight, I will ponder these things and I will prayerfully watch for one hour at my church as part of Maundy Thursday services. One hour. It’s not enough to thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you and for me.

But then again, nothing I do could thank Him enough.

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

Washed in the Blood of the Lamb

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One of the most remarkable things (and there are many) about the last days of Jesus was his humble acts of service.

Jesus, the King of Kings, knelt down to wash the filthy, dirty, and scarred feet of His disciples. What an impression that must have made to His followers – that the Son of God would fall on his knees to wash their feet and make them clean.

Jesus was sharing a valuable lesson about humility in that while He was the Messiah, He was sent to serve and not be served. If foreshadows the ultimate sacrifice He would make for all of us on the cross.

This week should remind us that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. While we are sinners, we are made new and spotless in Christ. What a loving act of grace. What a Savior.

Sorrow and Forgiveness

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

I harbor a hurt in my heart. I’m not sure how long it will take before it leaves but it is an ever present reminder of a sorrow that is hard to let go.

I learned many years ago that religious leaders aren’t perfect. You cannot count on them to never fail. But for a time, I had believed in my Pastor and it went wrong. It went really wrong.

I remember sitting in our church that had sustained me and comforted me through some of the most difficult and dark days of my life. Sunday services were my personal sanctuary. Sunday nights I turned everything over to God and just sat quietly as I tried to glean some words of comfort and grace through the service. For eight months one particular year as my Mother struggled with cancer, this was something I looked forward to and which kept me strong.

The church saved me in so many ways. Comfort came through the preaching, the concern, the serving, but especially the actual words spoken that seemed aimed directly at me in a room full of hurting and wounded souls.

Some people look back and realize that they did not appreciate this time. I remember clearly thinking that I could not believe how GREATLY blessed we were through our church leadership. We had something special. His messages were a gift from God…his failings were not.

Today, I am missing Pastor Isaac. I mourn his loss and I thank Jesus for one who tried and succeeded in reaching others for Christ. I wish he could have forgiven himself.

Jesus, watch over him for us.