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Brandon Gordon

Brandon Gordon passed away today, February 22, 2009, after a two-year battle with osteosarcoma. The Gordon family is one of our Christ and Cancer guest families, having used Matthew’s Miracle House in December 2008. We are happy that we were able to be involved in his life, even if in a small way.

Please pray that God’s Holy Spirit brings comfort to this family. Wish them well and encourage them here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brandongordon

We know that the adopted children of God through Christ are given eternal life with Him. We are looking toward meeting Brandon in eternity with our Lord.

Christ and Cancer earns 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Status

February 9, 2009

Today we received notification that Christ and Cancer is a tax-exempt public charity here with the United States Internal Revenue Service. This is a major step for our organization as this is a key element to raising funds and growing.

Obtaining this status with the IRS can be time-consuming and expensive if lawyers need to be used. We are blessed that two of our Directors have legal experience.

Our tax-exempt status is retroactively effective from May 7, 2008. So all prior donations qualify for a tax deduction under section 170 of the IRS code.

Part of the letter we received today:

Dear Applicant:

We are pelased to inform you that upon review of yoru application for tax exempt status we have determined that you are exempt from Federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to you are deductible under section 170 of the Code.

We determined that you are a public charity under the Code section(s) listed in the heading of this letter.

A testimony about the application process from Denise Rager:

God has heard our prayers.
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A month ago I was told by the IRS that the tax exempt applicatin for Christ and Cancer would not even be looked at until late Spring. The last few weeks I have been asking God to help. You see many organizations will not help a charity unless they are tax exempt (501 (C) (3) corporation). Without tax exempt status donors to the charity do not get a tax deduction. My hands were really tied to do any big fundraising events.
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Today I received notification that Christ and Cancer is a 501 (C) (3) corporation and we are tax exempt!!!! We are also considered a public charity (something we wanted). This is a MIRACLE. The IRS is currently processing applications that were received in August 08, I filed in late October 08. God can move mountains and he can move the IRS!!!! Friends out in cyber space please don’t put limits on God, He does hear our prayers. We might not always get the answers we like, but when we are walking the narrow path, nothing, nothing can hurt or interfer with the plans he has laid out for us.
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Anyone who donated to us this past year, I will get another receipt out to you in the next week that you can use on your 2008 taxes.

What Cancer Gave To Me - Lisa Willman

Here is a touching and thought-provoking cancer testimony from Lisa Willman.

Read the whole thing here:  http://www.myhopespace.com/index.php?page=WhatCancerGaveToMe

One excerpt:

Overall, as strange as it may sound, I’m glad to have gone through this journey. I believe with all of my heart that it made me a better person. I believe that God has a plan for all of us and that we all have a “time” in which we are destined to go onto the next life. I am very grateful to be a self-proclaimed “Cancer Babe” now, I wear the title with pride and hope for all of us that a cure will be found in the very near future. Apparently, my time hasn’t come up yet so I will keep trying to make the most of it. Life is just too short!

Is Joy the Antidote to Fear?

Written less than a month before his cancer diagnosis, Rev. David Wayne gives us encouraging teaching on overcoming fear. Follow his blog and health updates here: http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/



Is Joy the Antidote to Fear


I’m working through my Christmas messages today and in a couple of weeks I’ll preach on Luke 2:9-10

9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.

The Holy Bible : New International Version
, electronic ed., Lk 2:9-10 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984).


By way of practical application we can note that upon seeing the angel of the Lord the shepherds were terrified. And the angel addresses their fear.

At this point we can stop and ask how we would address someone who was consumed with terror or abject fear. Most of us would tend to address the fear head on and provide logical or practical antidotes to the fear. Our message would probably eventually get around to one of two things - 1) don’t worry you have nothing to fear, or 2) take courage, you can handle this. I suppose we could go with a third - “you’re right, this is going to be as bad as you think it is and you are probably gonna die, but hey, it’s Christmas season and I’m trying to keep things on a more hopeful note.

The opposite of fear is usually courage so unless we took the “you have nothing to fear” route, most of us would take the “have courage” route. But the angel takes the “joy” route here.

This is not to say that courage is unnecessary, but I think we ought to pay some attention tothe fact that joy is offered in place of fear here and consider the relationship between joy and fear. Could it be that joy is the remedy for fear? And could it be that joy is the foundation for courage?

I don’t mean this in a Bobby McFerrin “don’t worry be happy” way - where we say “oh quit worrying and be happy.” In this case the angel was pointing to a real event as the source of joy. In other words, there joy was not to come through a change in their state of mind. Their joy was to come through consideration of a real event - the incarnation. Rather than trying to work themselves into a state of joy, the shepherds needed to consider the implications of the incarnation, and this would produce joy, and I would extrapolate from there to say that this would lead to courage.

And applying this to us I suggest that, when somneone is struggling with fear the answer is not to tell them to “take courage” as if they can suddenly turn on the courage switch in their minds. The antidote to fear is “find joy.” But this is also not simply telling them to change their state of mind. The antidote is to “find joy - by considering who Christ is and what He has done.”

Death and God are the two most fearful things that humans face. Death because, well it’s death, it’s final and it is what people in general fear most. In the Bible when people encountered God or one of his messengers the usual response was similar to the shepherds - terror.

Jesus has overcome both - He has defeated death and He has removed the barriers of sin that give us reason to fear an encounter with God.

Hence, since Christ has removed the sources of our two greatest fears it would seem reasonable that His redemption is the antidote to all our lesser fears, and every fear short of death or God is a lesser fear. In other words, the worst that can happen to anyone can’t happen to those who are in Christ. Thus based upon His objective work on the cross we have reason for joy and thus ability to find freedom from fear, and thus ability to find courage.

Whaddaya think?


Link to original:

http://jollyblogger.typepad.com/jollyblogger/2008/12/is-joy-the-antidote-to-fear.html

Content added within the rights granted by the Creative Commons License: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Don’t Waste Your Cancer - By John Piper & David Powlison

source: http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/TasteAndSee/ByDate/2006/1776_Dont_Waste_Your_Cancer/


By John Piper February 15, 2006


[Editor's Note: Our friend, David Powlison, of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation, who also was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, has added some helpful expansions to John Piper’s ten points. Indented paragraphs beginning with "DP:" are written by David Powlison.]

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I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.

DP: I (David Powlison) add these reflections on John Piper’s words the morning after receiving news that I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer (March 3, 2006). The ten main points and first paragraphs are his; the second paragraphs are mine.

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.

DP: Recognizing his designing hand does not make you stoic or dishonest or artificially buoyant. Instead, the reality of God’s design elicits and channels your honest outcry to your one true Savior. God’s design invites honest speech, rather than silencing us into resignation. Consider the honesty of the Psalms, of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38), of Habakkuk 3. These people are bluntly, believingly honest because they know that God is God and set their hopes in him. Psalm 28 teaches you passionate, direct prayer to God. He must hear you. He will hear you. He will continue to work in you and your situation. This outcry comes from your sense of need for help (28:1-2). Then name your particular troubles to God (28:3-5). You are free to personalize with your own particulars. Often in life’s ‘various trials’ (James 1:2), what you face does not exactly map on to the particulars that David or Jesus faced - but the dynamic of faith is the same. Having cast your cares on him who cares for you, then voice your joy (28:6-7): the God-given peace that is beyond understanding. Finally, because faith always works out into love, your personal need and joy will branch out into loving concern for others (28:8-9). Illness can sharpen your awareness of how thoroughly God has already and always been at work in every detail of your life.

2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

DP: The blessing comes in what God does for us, with us, through us. He brings his great and merciful redemption onto the stage of the curse. Your cancer, in itself, is one of those 10,000 ‘shadows of death’ (Psalm 23:4) that come upon each of us: all the threats, losses, pains, incompletion, disappointment, evils. But in his beloved children, our Father works a most kind good through our most grievous losses: sometimes healing and restoring the body (temporarily, until the resurrection of the dead to eternal life), always sustaining and teaching us that we might know and love him more simply. In the testing ground of evils, your faith becomes deep and real, and your love becomes purposeful and wise: James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-39.

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.

DP: God himself is your comfort. He gives himself. The hymn “Be Still My Soul” (by Katerina von Schlegel) reckons the odds the right way: we are 100% certain to suffer, and Christ is 100% certain to meet us, to come for us, comfort us, and restore love’s purest joys. The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” reckons the odds the same way: you are 100% certain to pass through grave distresses, and your Savior is 100% certain to “be with you, your troubles to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress.” With God, you aren’t playing percentages, but living within certainties.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.

We will all die, if Jesus postpones his return. Not to think about what it will be like to leave this life and meet God is folly. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning [a funeral] than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” How can you lay it to heart if you won’t think about it? Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end. How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this? What a waste, if we do not think about death.

DP: Paul describes the Holy Spirit is the unseen, inner ‘downpayment’ on the certainty of life. By faith, the Lord gives a sweet taste of the face-to-face reality of eternal life in the presence of our God and Christ. We might also say that cancer is one ‘downpayment’ on inevitable death, giving one bad taste of the reality of of our mortality. Cancer is a signpost pointing to something far bigger: the last enemy that you must face. But Christ has defeated this last enemy: 1 Corinthians 15. Death is swallowed up in victory. Cancer is merely one of the enemy’s scouting parties, out on patrol. It has no final power if you are a child of the resurrection, so you can look it in the eye.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.

Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know that therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21).

DP: Cherishing Christ expresses the two core activities of faith: dire need and utter joy. Many psalms cry out in a ‘minor key’: we cherish our Savior by needing him to save us from real troubles, real sins, real sufferings, real anguish. Many psalms sing out in a ‘major key’: we cherish our Savior by delighting in him, loving him, thanking him for all his benefits to us, rejoicing that his salvation is the weightiest thing in the world and that he gets last say. And many psalms start out in one key and end up in the other. Cherishing Christ is not monochromatic; you live the whole spectrum of human experience with him. To ‘beat’ cancer is to live knowing how your Father has compassion on his beloved child, because he knows your frame, that you are but dust. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. To live is to know him, whom to know is to love.

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.

It is not wrong to know about cancer. Ignorance is not a virtue. But the lure to know more and more and the lack of zeal to know God more and more is symptomatic of unbelief. Cancer is meant to waken us to the reality of God. It is meant to put feeling and force behind the command, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). It is meant to waken us to the truth of Daniel 11:32, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” It is meant to make unshakable, indestructible oak trees out of us: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2). What a waste of cancer if we read day and night about cancer and not about God.

DP: What is so for your reading is also true for your conversations with others. Other people will often express their care and concern by inquiring about your health. That’s good, but the conversation easily gets stuck there. So tell them openly about your sickness, seeking their prayers and counsel, but then change the direction of the conversation by telling them what your God is doing to faithfully sustain you with 10,000 mercies. Robert Murray McCheyne wisely said, “For every one look at your sins, take ten looks at Christ.” He was countering our tendency to reverse that 10:1 ratio by brooding over our failings and forgetting the Lord of mercy. What McCheyne says about our sins we can also apply to our sufferings. For every one sentence you say to others about your cancer, say ten sentences about your God, and your hope, and what he is teaching you, and the small blessings of each day. For every hour you spend researching or discussing your cancer, spend 10 hours researching and discussing and serving your Lord. Relate all that you are learning about cancer back to him and his purposes, and you won’t become obsessed.

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

When Epaphroditus brought the gifts to Paul sent by the Philippian church he became ill and almost died. Paul tells the Philippians, “He has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (Philippians 2:26-27). What an amazing response! It does not say they were distressed that he was ill, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill. That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people. Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.

DP: Our culture is terrified of facing death. It is obsessed with medicine. It idolizes youth, health and energy. It tries to hide any signs of weakness or imperfection. You will bring huge blessing to others by living openly, believingly and lovingly within your weaknesses. Paradoxically, moving out into relationships when you are hurting and weak will actually strengthen others. ‘One anothering’ is a two-way street of generous giving and grateful receiving. Your need gives others an opportunity to love. And since love is always God’s highest purpose in you, too, you will learn his finest and most joyous lessons as you find small ways to express concern for others even when you are most weak. A great, life-threatening weakness can prove amazingly freeing. Nothing is left for you to do except to be loved by God and others, and to love God and others.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.

Paul used this phrase in relation to those whose loved ones had died: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is a grief at death. Even for the believer who dies, there is temporary loss—loss of body, and loss of loved ones here, and loss of earthly ministry. But the grief is different—it is permeated with hope. “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Don’t waste your cancer grieving as those who don’t have this hope.

DP: Show the world this different way of grieving. Paul said that he would have had “grief upon grief” if his friend Epaphroditus had died. He had been grieving, feeling the painful weight of his friend’s illness. He would have doubly grieved if his friend had died. But this loving, honest, God-oriented grief coexisted with “rejoice always” and “the peace of God that passes understanding” and “showing a genuine concern for your welfare.” How on earth can heartache coexist with love, joy, peace, and an indestructible sense of life purpose? In the inner logic of faith, this makes perfect sense. In fact, because you have hope, you may feel the sufferings of this life more keenly: grief upon grief. In contrast, the grieving that has no hope often chooses denial or escape or busyness because it can’t face reality without becoming distraught. In Christ, you know what’s at stake, and so you keenly feel the wrong of this fallen world. You don’t take pain and death for granted. You love what is good, and hate what is evil. After all, you follow in the image of “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” But this Jesus chose his cross willingly “for the joy set before him.” He lived and died in hopes that all come true. His pain was not muted by denial or medication, nor was it tainted with despair, fear, or thrashing about for any straw of hope that might change his circumstances. Jesus’ final promises overflow with the gladness of solid hope amid sorrows: “My joy will be in you, and your joy will be made full. Your grief will be turned to joy. No one will take your joy away from you. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy will be made full. These things I speak in the world, so that they may have my joy made full in themselves” (selection from John 15-17).

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).

DP: Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? Will you come to terms with death, on your terms? But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. He will walk with you. Of course you’ll fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability or brooding, escapism or fears. But he will always pick you up when you stumble. Your inner enemy - a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer - will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25).

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.

DP: Jesus is your life. He is the man before whom every knee will bow. He has defeated death once for all. He will finish what he has begun. Let your light so shine as you live in him, by him, through him, for him. One of the church’s ancient hymns puts it this way:

Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
(from “I bind unto myself the name”).

In your cancer, you will need your brothers and sisters to witness to the truth and glory of Christ, to walk with you, to live out their faith beside you, to love you. And you can do same with them and with all others, becoming the heart that loves with the love of Christ, the mouth filled with hope to both friends and strangers.

Remember you are not left alone. You will have the help you need. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Pastor John


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