Dust is dust. Whether by decay or by fire, ashes are ashes.
"and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Eccl. 12:7
This entry ties in with the previous one, which has also been the one most viewed on my blog: The Beloved Country.
I solemnly dedicate this to all of God's emissaries who have died or will die in a land far away from their birthplace because they were convinced that HE had led them there to proclaim the Gospel of HIS SON as foot soldiers in an army of saints who happened to take God's command literally and personally:
"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." Mark 16:1
"that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he owns; it is at the end of his field. For the full price let him give it to me in your presence as property for a burying place.”" Genesis 23:9
Abraham needed a burial place. He owned nothing else, mind you, in the promised land. But he needed a final resting place that he could call his own; a place where Sarah could be laid to rest; a place where there might be some assurance that, when his time came, his remains would end up beside hers.
In his case, at least, it was also symbolic. To no one but Abraham and God - and maybe to a handful of others- was it apparent that a vast portion of land surrounding his newly purchased cave would one day belong to his descendants.
Buying Machpelah's cave was an act of faith.... a statement of faith... a prophecy.
I have read the chapter many times. I am starting to get it now. These days, when I think about what's ahead, it dawns on me: I need to buy a cave.
It is something that I have procrastinated about (procrastination being among the more prominent of my many gifts). But, Linda and I took care of this recently. We are both content.
There is a new funeral home just minutes from our house. The rooms offered for viewing are nicely furnished. Each has a private space with bathroom for immediate family. It includes a small mausoleum and boasts the only ecologically safe crematory in the area. We signed a contract and made the down payment.
I brought this up recently in a Sunday morning message. We would count it a high honor to die in the land to which God called us. So, if that should happen, please: do everything possible to give a clear testimony for Christ with our passing:
We would like to think that others could come to Christ as a result of attending our funeral.
There would be an appropriate viewing time. Depending on how long it might take to get here for those who want to come, a time for a memorial/celebration service would be announced. That would take place at our church/home. Immediately following, the casket(s) would be transported back to the funeral home...to the crematory... urns with our ashes would be turned over to the family a few hours later.
No, we do not have a problem with the idea of cremation.
"and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7
Dust is dust. Whether by decay or by fire, ashes are ashes. Whether buried facing skyward in a pretty cemetery or rolled face down into a mass grave... dust is dust. Whether laid to rest in familiar surroundings or buried beneath the rubble of an earthquake, dust is dust. Whether incinerated in an explosion or eaten by wild animals, dust is dust. Whether buried at sea or burned at the stake... dust is dust.
The story of John Wycliffe comes to mind:
"philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer...an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century."
I would hate to be at that post-resurrection press conference, wouldn't you?: "Is John Wycliffe here? Oh, hey, I can barely see you... jejeje. Yes, I know, Adoniram (Judson) has a glorified body and you don't. He had the good sense to die at sea. I had everything set for you, John, but after they burned your bones and scattered your ashes, I couldn't make that resurrection thing work for you. Sorry! I guess you will just have to get used to floating around forever up here like you have been."
Even if re-assembling every last atom of my earthly temple is requisite in order for me to have a glorified body, I think God can handle it.
With all of the versions of the Bible out there, I have yet to see one with an asterisk beside the promise of "raised in incorruption" (1 Cor 15:42) that says: "unless your body was destroyed by fire." What a travesty that would be for untold thousands burned at the stake for the crime of giving a "good confession" for Jesus Christ!
To all who lived, preached and died in a strange land, to all whose graves are unmarked and their names unknown, to all who were never afforded a grave to put a marker on anyway, to all who have died in Christ's service: I thank you. And I relish the thought of one day being with you in God's presence, in glorified bodies, singing together the praises of the eternal Lamb of God.
“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Revelation 5:13
re-posted from 2.07.2013
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
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Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6