Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes–A Eulogy

This solemn occasion, in which we gather to bury this loved one, brings the age old question to mind: How do we deal with death?  To be human is to have pondered this inevitable enigma.  The death of someone close to us hurls us into thoughts about our own mortality.  Death is that lonely part of the human journey, the ticket to that solitary ride into the mysterious cosmos and the life beyond.

Death, and how to deal with it, is one of the great themes of literature.  It is the constant concern that motivates thinkers, writers, and philosophers to dive into the depths of the human condition.

We want to know what follows this fragile earthly existence.  What really happens?  Not what this man says nor what that group claims, but what really transpires.  What is the truth concerning that first step beyond this dimension?

Being Christians, we will look to the bestseller of all time, the Holy Bible.  We will look to the ancient Hebrew patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and the Savior Himself for our answers.

What did they say about death?  Not what someone said they said, but what words did they actually write down to explain to us about this experience called death?  Moses reports to us that the LORD (Yahweh in the Hebrew) said to the fallen Adam, “In the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground, for out of it were you taken.  For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3: 19).  Later in Genesis, Abraham said, Look at me.  Here I am about to speak to Yahweh my Creator, and I am only “dust and ashes” (18: 27).  King David says to God, “You have brought me into the dust of death.”

And some say that that is all there is.  We are born; we walk around the earth for a moment in time; we laugh; we cry, and then we cease to be.  But according to the Hebrew authors of the Bible, that is only half of the story.

Yes, our bodies are composed of dust and ashes.  But another very special ingredient must be added.  Take the dust, mix it with water, and add the special spark of the spirit through the miracle of the Master’s touch, and you have the human being–what the apostle Paul called, “the glory of God.”

“There is a spirit in man…”

The prophet Job confirms this when he writes, “There is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty gives man understanding” (32: 18).  Inside this miraculously fashioned body of dust lies a spirit given to us by our Creator through which He enlightens us.  Job goes on and says that God speaks to us “in a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, in slumberings upon the bed; then God opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that God may withdraw man” from his own purpose, and hide pride from man.”

God reaches out to us as we walk “through this valley of the shadow of death.”  Job later explains how our “soul draws near to the grave.”  Then God says to his messengers, “Deliver them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.”

God promises to restore us to our youth if we say to our Maker, “I have sinned, and perverted that which is right…then He will deliver us from going to the pit, and his life shall see the light” (Job 33: 15-28).

Hope in the Resurrection

Who will deliver us from the grave?  2,000 years before the Savior walked the streets of Jerusalem, Job wrote, “For I know that my Redeemer lives,  and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,” and though my body be destroyed, “yet in my flesh shall I see God” (18: 25-26).

The prophet Daniel confirmed this hope of life after our earthly body passes away.  Michael the archangel told him that the resurrection will take place after the great “time of trouble” that will befall the earth in the latter days.  At that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.  And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (12: 1-2).

So, there it is.  In these few passages, we see a resurrection that will lift us up out of the dust of our graves.   The resurrection is our only hope, and that hope hinges on our Redeemer and Savior.  Christ said, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
It is now left up to us the living to seek out and find our own way with our Maker.  It is a personal thing.  We all must find the path that leads out of the dust and ashes of death and be reconciled with God.  We can help each other, of course, but we cannot “walk that lonesome valley” for someone else.

And so, now, we commend Scott Kenneth Hancock’s spirit back to the Heavenly Father from whence it came, and in fulfillment of scripture, we place his dust and ashes back into the earth from whence it came.

May God’s grace and mercy help us all on our journey back to the heart of God.  Amen.

[Remembering my Dad with these words spoken over his grave ten years ago.]        Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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Immortality–Bringing “Life and Immortality to Light”

To live on.  To not have to die.  It is the common thread tying almost all cultures, religions and philosophies together.  Is it not what every nation has clamored for?

The furtive longings of a billion souls from a thousand civilizations have whispered their desire for it.  The baked clay tablets of Mesopotamia speak of it.  Fragments of Egypt’s fragile papyrus pages still share the dream.   The Gilgamesh Epic of Babylonia around 2,200 B.C. chronicles the hero’s quest for immortality.  The ancient Greeks thought that immortality was attained through courageous effort on the battlefield.  Shakespeare imagined immortality coming through the longevity of the lines he wrote.  The Philosopher’s Stone, with its lead-into-gold alchemic dream, symbolized transcending our leaden mortal existence into a golden immortal elixir of life and rejuvenation.  Time would fail us to include the Egyptians’ mummies, the Indians’ nirvana, and on down to our present day where actors and directors try to immortalize themselves in celluloid.

Each of these attempts have flickered and failed.  But the thirst for immortality will not be quenched.  Is it not the most important possession one could ever attain in this life?  To live on and silence the tears shed at your passing.  To trump and triumph over Death.  To laugh at Death’s rude intrusion into all you hold dear.  To negate Death’s mayhem.  To expose him to be a liar when he says that your expiration date is a welcomed conclusion to the human condition, and his boast that he is a friend to the infirm and decrepit.

And Then a Man Came on the Scene

Though a universal longing, all these attempts have collapsed in the dusty halls of darkness.  And then a man came on the scene some 2,000 years ago–a man said to have “brought life and immortality to light.”  He brought good news, announcing the way to conquer death.  He would know, for He defeated Death.  For He was raised from the dead Himself after “three days and three nights” in the grave, seen by hundreds of witnesses.

“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1: 3, NIV).  He taught them during that time how to become citizens of His immortal kingdom.  In a word, He taught them how to become immortal.  He, of course is the Savior of mankind, known to the English speaking world as Jesus Christ and known to those very early disciples as Yahshua, which means in the Hebrew, Yah is the Savior.

He shared His Hebrew name with the Hebrew patriarch Joshua, the Anglicized rendition of Yahshua.  Many biblical scholars admit that their names are interchangeable [http://www.blbclassic.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2424&t=KJV].

In fact, the angel of Yahweh told Joseph to name Him  “Yah is Savior” because “He shall save His people from their sins.”

The Words He Spoke…

Now many have a problem with Him, but all that know of Him will at least say that He is a wise man, a great teacher, and a prophet.  If He was such a great prophet and spiritual teacher, then why don’t those same people believe His words?

And it is the words He spoke about life and immortality that tests us in our search.

What did He teach?  He taught us that the Father Creator is an invisible Spirit, that He is Love, that the Father has a kingdom and a government, that there is a way to enter that kingdom of God and become the children of the Father God, and that He and only He is the way to eternal life, which is immortality.

He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John 14: 6).  Anybody who comes up another way is a “thief and a robber.”

He also taught a duality–that there was an enemy Satan, who has a kingdom here on earth, and that he and his evil spirits are warring against God and His children’s kingdom.

Christ taught that sin is the breaking of the Ten Commandments (I John 3: 4-6).  And we humans break the law early on in our lives because of the old nature we are born with.  And He taught that it is this sin nature in us that causes our death.  We are mortal because of the sin within our hearts.  Sin brings on death.  Plain and simple.  “But you know that He appeared so that He might take away our sins. And in Him is no sin” (v. 5).

“He shall save His people from their sins,” said the angel.  He “takes away our sins,” says the apostle John.  So if Christ takes our sins away, then we are free from sin, which opens up the way to immortality because it is sin that brings on our death.

Summing up, Christ “has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light” (II Tim. 1: 10).  He has “abolished death.”  He has abolished death by abolishing sin in our lives, and thus, He brings immortality to us.

He came to “save His people from their sins” by destroying sin in their lives.  But how does He do this?  It is through His death, burial and resurrection.  He took on our sins upon His sacrificial body, and He died.  He died, we died; our old sinful self died.  He was buried; we were buried.  He raised from the dead; we are raised from the dead–by faith in His resurrection [for much more on how He takes away our old sinful heart, see Romans 6: 1-12 and https://immortalityroad.wordpress.com/2010/08/21/life-out-of-death-the-ultimate-paradox/ ].

So the Savior destroyed the sin in our life, and thereby destroyed death, thus bringing “life and immortality to light.”  He destroyed sin and death, “for the wages of sin is death.”  Destroy sin and you destroy its after effects–death.

But He also said that most would not comprehend and do His teachings.  He said that broad is the way that leads to destruction and many will enter that wide gate.  But narrow is the way to eternal life, and few will find it.

And that last clause–“and few will find it”–should give us great pause.  He said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  Oh, to be one of His chosen, chosen to sit with Him on His throne, helping Him rule the nations during the greatest reign of peace this earth has ever seen–ruling alongside of Him for 1, 000 years, ruling as one of the immortal princes and princesses in His kingdom.   Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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The Father’s Name Guards Us from the Evil–Do We Know It?

In Christ’s prayer recorded in John 17, the Father’s name takes center stage as to our relationship with the Father.

He said, “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world…” (v. 6).  I have shown clearly thy name; I have made it apparent; I have made it known to them.  And they have believed that You have sent Me; they have kept My word, and they believe that it is You, Father, who is doing the works.  And they know that I came out of You, and that it is You who has sent Me (vs. 6-8).

Christ goes on to say that it is His followers that He is praying for and not the world because they are the Father’s, who has given them to Christ.  And the time has come, He is saying, for Him to depart out of the earth, leaving His followers.  So how will they remain in one mind and one accord with the Savior.  How will God keep them spiritually safe and sound after Christ departs?

The answer is through the knowledge of the Father’s name.  “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given Me…” There is keeping power in the name of Yahweh.  The Greek word for “keep” means “to attend to carefully, to attend, to guard,” and is translated in other places as “to preserve.”  So, He is guarding us from the evil for this purpose—“that they may be one, as we are one” (vs. 9-11).  One could then say that we are never be fully one with God without knowing His name.

He goes on to say that while He was walking with them here on earth, He “kept them in thy name,” and none of them is lost except Judas Iscariot.  He “kept” them; He guarded them.  How?  By teaching them and showing them and revealing to them the Father’s name.  For in His name is the whole plan of God (v. 12).

Christ goes on to ask the Father to not give them an escape hatch “out of the world,” but rather guard and keep them from the evil.  “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (v. 15, NKJV) {Side note: That speaks against the rapture theory}.

Now some will say that this prayer is only for His twelve disciples, His  followers of that era.  But it is for all of us down through the ages.  “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word” (v. 20).  That’s us.  He was praying for you and me, so we can take these concepts to heart.

Consequently, if Christ is going “keep” and guard you and me from the evil by manifesting the Father’s name to us that we all may be one with Him, then how can that happen when very few Christians know that the Father’s name is Yahweh?

Christ’s desire is that all of us His followers “would be with Me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which You have given Me” (vs. 24).  He desires that we all “may be made perfect in one” (v. 23).  But we have to ask ourselves, How can this happen if a Christian doesn’t know the Father’s name Yahweh, which God uses to guard us from the evil?

And lastly in this prayer in John 17, Christ repeats, “And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it…”  For this specific reason: “That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  Let’s savor this.  He is saying, I have made known, shown clearly, Your name, Father, and I will continue to make it known, for this reason: That the same love You have loved Me with may be in My followers.  And that My very essence and Spirit of love may be in them!

Here the very love and presence of God is tied into the knowledge of God’s name.  His name means “The Self-Existent One” and Yahweh is the Savior, which is what the Son of God’s Hebrew name means—Yahshua.

Inside, God’s name contains and reveals the very nature of Himself.  God is Love.  Him being the Savior of His creation reveals or unveils His essence, which is Love.  For “greater love hath no man than this than to lay down his life for his friends.”  This essence of the greatest love on earth, giving your life to save someone else is implicit in the name of the Savior.  This is the reason that our hearts are touched and moved when we hear of someone giving up their own lives to save someone else.  It touches us because it is the heart of God and shows us what He has done, whether we realize it or not.

He guards us from the selfishness of the evil one, when we think on His name and how He gave His life for us.

For the great invisible Spirit Yahweh poured Himself into a human form so that He could express fully the love that is His essence.  It is through realizing this knowledge of His love contained in His name that we can receive that same love—that God, who is Love, may dwell in our hearts, and that He and His love would thrive and grow in our hearts, so that  we could make known who God is by the love exhibited through us to others.

And thus fulfill Christ’s prayer.  “I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.”      Kenneth Wayne Hancock

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